Yo La Tengo – Paris, Bataclan – 18th March 2013

Experiencing Yo La Tengo on stage is always a delight I must say as an introductory note. They are part of these American bands that never disappoint either through their regular outputs or through their shows. Time flies on and it had been more than three years since their last show at exactly the same place and I was thrilled and excited to see them back.

Yo La Tengo formed in 1984 on the nucleus based by husband and wife couple : Ira Kaplan (vocals, guitars and keys) and Georgia Hubley (voice and drums). Always funny by the way as for us French people ; the masculine name sounding more like Georgia and the female one should be Ira (anyway…). After having played with many bass players, the band finally found their key man with James McNew in 1992 to give the core trio we have known and been loving for many years. The origins of the name come from a quote from a former baseball player (“Yo la tengo” = “I got it” in spanish) and critics have often characterised their music around two kinds of sings : the slow Velvet Underground ballad and the mad and crazy experimental…Velvet Underground song. Quite true to be frank but this is exactly what makes them great as they stick with this formula and manage to sound fresh with every new record. Their last LP “Fade” just went out at the start of 2013 and is excellent as major part of the 12 (!) before this last one (cf. complete discography of the band).

The thrill was even greater when we received the information that there would not be any opening act but instead two sets from the band : the first one acoustic and the second one mainly electric. Both sets last respectively 45 minutes and 1 hour and 40 minutes and the band was on top form (complete setlist here). Nice fake (plastic or wood?) trees on stage, bringing to the sold-out Bataclan theatre a nice atmosphere. Ira Kaplan was however the real star of the show here ; the guy’s personality is divided like his songs between that of a beautiful ballad singer and of a rock mutherfucka when the feedback guitar God orders his disciple to make noise, noise, noise ! (well, you got the picture I guess…).

Yo La Tengo, Bataclan 2013, band seated

Great show overall with many splendid ideas ; the started the song with their new song “Ohm” and played it again two hours later in a more electric version. The encore was particularly nice as well with a few great acoustic covers. Please come back soon guys!

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