Your host has been a long time attendee of the Festival les Inroks and even if I did not go necessarily every year, I try to mark up the dates when the program looks interesting. Quite a weird feeling this year as if I was more than happy to find back on stage more “standard” and guitar-oriented bands after the Pitchfork festival, the opposite was true as well, i.e. I found that the festival was lacking a bit in diversity. The best (worst?) examples being once more these sub-bands, mainly coming from the UK, that bring nothing apart for a kind a “savoir-faire” which I find quite cynical. I am talking here about bands such as The Maccabees, The Vaccines, Electric Guest, Peace for instance.
Please go to the “shows” page for a complete picture of the bands I saw as I will focus here only on a few bands which I really enjoyed.
- Spiritualized (8th November – Cigale)
At last! Spiritualized has been for years one of my favourite bands (ranked #77 in my Top 100) but I did not succeed in seeing them live before. The show was quite in line with my expectations, i.e. leader Jason Pierce being not very talkative and concentrated on his music with a great bunch of musicians behind and two beautiful gospel singers. I would even say that seeing Spiritualized live is understanding what this is about : slow start in almost every song with only a few notes that could be played in a church and then the music starts to speed up little by little eventually reaching repetition and pure pleasure.
- Michael Kiwanuka (10th November – Cigale)
Michael Kiwanuka is young 25-year old young UK singer from Ugandan origins and he published his first album this year. His style is clearly influenced by soul/folk artists such as Bill Withers or the recently deceased Terry Callier, which makes him quite a curiosity in the current music scene. Excellent show live and his voice in particular is as good as on the record. I really appreciated as well the fact that there is a kind of understatement and humility in him and his musicians.
- Alabama Shakes (10th November – Cigale)
Alabama Shakes is another 2012 revelation. Coming from Athens, Alabama and built around the strong personality of their singer Brittany Howard (what a name!), their music is not very far from that of Michael Kiwanuka in the mindset as their sound is clearly retro-soul oriented but in a modern way. In other words, this band is really part of the “now” but has the modesty not to create anything new but adopting great songs from the past. The musicians are really efficient on stage but the real star there is by far Brittany who has a real strong presence on stage ; the Cigale was on fire!
- Pulp (13th November – Olympia)
After a short two-day break, back to the festival les Inrocks to see a band I had not seen live before actually : Pulp! The band was on indefinite hiatus for years and their singer Jarvis Cocker had a solid solo career until they started to play a few shows two years ago and went on playing throughout the world. It had been years since they did not play Paris although Jarvis is familiar with the city as he lives there all year-long.
So how was it? Well, very good show for a very good band if I may say but… Of course, all the Britpop hits were there and the crowd went hectic in particular when great songs such as “Disco 2000” or “Common People” were played but I was personally feeling a kind of inauthentic atmosphere, as in “let’s show the world that this concert is amazing and that I am great being part of the lucky ones”. The fact in having Jarvis speaking bad French between every song completely took out all emotion as fas as I was concerned. Let’s not be negative as the show was overall very good ; the climax being a fantastic version of “This is Hardcore“.
See you next year les Inrocks and enjoy my video of “Babies” :