Pitchfork Music Festival Paris : 31th October, 01 and 02 November 2013, Grande Halle de la Villette

Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2013

Now in its 3rd Paris edition, the Pitchfork Music Festival held in the beautiful place of the Grande Halle de la Villette is the European cousin of that held in Chicago every year. For those with a slight interest in music or in the digital world, Pitchfork is probably the best musical site today either for the quality of its contents or for the impressive number of interesting things one can fin there on a daily basis (reviews, videos, news, etc…).

The least one can say about the European edition of the festival is that this is for sure now one of the best in Paris. I had attended last year’s edition with quite a lot of enthusiasm but must admit having been lost a bit sometimes in “hard-to-listen-to” music, with the fact that I had been overambitious vs. my old age in wanting literally to watch ALL bands. My program made more sense this year even if I still managed to see seventeen bands in three days.

I read or heard a few jealous comments from a few French media about the fact that Pitchfork was too much about hype and not enough about “real” established bands. This might have been partly true but not for this year as headliners (and less famous artists) were really accessible to all listeners in the right mindset. And what makes this festival really fantastic is the beautiful place where the two stages stand, the audience and its diversity which is probably made out of more than 50% of non-French people, the always excellent food, the pleasure in having a Rough Trade shop within the festival where you can buy vinyl to kill time during the abominable Panda Bear set and last but not least the fact that there is a roof when it rains! Now, what about the music this year ? I tried to classify what I saw in three categories :

  • The electro & dance acts :

Mount Kimbie Pitchfork 2013

To my mind, this is really what makes this festival different from the others. You sometimes have electro acts in big outdoor festivals but energy barely equals subtlety and good music. Completely different mindset here where the festival wants you to dance while listening to beautiful and dreamlike music. Although I was a bit disappointed by the new Australian sensation Jagwar Ma, the two sets from Mount Kimbie and Darkside the first day were pure moments of joy and constant well-being. Darkside in particular is the new project of a American-Chilean musician called Nicolas Jaar where he mixes euphoric dance music with great guitars reefs and a mood not that different from the best Pink Floyd moments.

Hot Chip Pitchfork 2013

I personally ended the festival on Saturday with the great UK band Hot Chip and enjoyed every minute of it. To summarize, let’s say that these guys look like complete nerds but make beautiful music, a crossover between LCD Soundsystem and New Order as far as I am concerned.

  • The discoveries and UFO’s :

Omar Souleyman Pitchfork 2013

Once again, this is what makes the Pitchfork Festival so interesting. Where could you see in such a consistent line-up artists such as the Syrian dance sensation Omar Souleyman (exciting the first 10 minutes but boring afterwards), the teeny trash-pop future star Sky Ferreira (quite promising on stage ; can’t wait to hear the album), the more-than-quite boring Panda Bear (I really have issues with Animal Collective members on stage) or the amazing saxophone player Colin Stetson ?

Colin Stetson Pitchfork 2013

The later was a real discovery for me although his sounds were familiar as he played with many bands, including LCD Soundsystem. Here was a guy who only played four very long instrumentals alone and made it sound as if it were (great) new alien music.

  • The “rock” bands :

Savages Pitchfork 2013

…and for those more at ease with traditional drums-bass-guitars rock sounds, indeed there are such bands @ Pitchfork Festival! But rather than seeing Phoenix for the umpteenth times like in all other festivals, here is the place to see bands that have come exclusively in Europe for Pitchfork.

Warpaint Pitchfork 2013

Although I enjoyed the drums-guitar duo No Age and their energy, I am starting to feel a bit disappointed by the all-female band Savages. Although they are quite hype everywhere, the sub-Siouxsie voice imitation by their singer is a bit nerve-stressing after a few songs. Quite the opposite with the Californian band Warpaint who were back on tour after a long period of time and on the eve of their new LP to come soon.

Yo La Tengo Pitchfork 203

I was very happy as always to see again Yo La Tengo on stage after their Parisian show earlier in the year. Excellent show as always in a pure Velvetian tradition (either they sing beautiful slow-core ballads or furious rock numbers) and it was particularly moving to see them back on stage sharing vocals with Hot Chip for a cover of Pale Blue Eyes, in memory of the great Lou Reed who had passed away a few days before. Great initiative from the Rough Trade store as well where you could meet the musicians after the show for a few words and an album-signing workshop.

Ira Kaplan Yo La Tengo Pitchfork 2013

My best show of the festival though probably came from the beautiful Swedish band Junip led by José Gonzalez. A perfect mix of craftmanship, energy, melodies within a loop-oriented kind of music, that was an amazing performance and their last LP is greatly recommended.

Junip Pitchfork 2013

That’s it for this year. Prepare your 3-day pass for next year as frankly this is not a Festival to miss if you happen to live in Paris or around. And remember, Pitchfork is stronger than rain!

Audience Pitchfork 2013

My Paris, Olympia, Autumn 2013 festival : Pixies, 29th September – Trombone Shorty, 3rd October – MGMT, 8th October

By pure coincidence, the last three shows I attended happened to take place at the Olympia theatre in Paris. A bit of mixed feelings as always with this hall as although this is true that this is a truly historical place (The Beatles played there!), this is not the most rock’n’roll place ever and having hostesses taking you to your seat is always a bit weird…

Pixies - Olympia 2013

Watching again the Pixies on stage was not something I had expected to do but receiving the news that Kim Deal was definitely out of the picture and replaced by another Kim on bass was one first good reason to discover this new line-up, the other being a quite good new EP that had just been out since late summer.

Joey Santiago - Pixies - Olympia 2013

And indeed it looks like the band has been liberated and keener to play a wider range of songs, from obscure old ones, the usual winners and a few new ones. As always, the band did not do a great job in having contact with the audience but nothing new here. On the opposite, seeing Black Francis fitter and back to a reasonable weight was a pleasure ; his voice in particular was on top shape. The real star of the show however was Joey Santiago on guitar. Always difficult to understand how such a creative genius can only express his art through this band and literally disappear from the music scene when not playing with the Pixies. This is I guess the story of great collective adventures (greater than the sum of individualities as we say…).

Black Francis - Pixies - Olympia 2013

Overall an excellent show despite being a bit mechanical as always with this great band (number 55 in our TOP 100 list).

  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, 3rd October

Trombone Shorty - Olympia 2013

From the typically indie America indie rock band to a complete different style of music, there is only one step ! Trombone Shorty is a soul/funky/jazz musician who happens to be a great singer as well. He has been hanging around for years in the New Orleans music scene, hence his “shorty” nickname as he started playing at a very early age. For the record, he acted in a few episodes of the series “Treme” from the same creator as “The Wire”.

Trombone Shorty - Olympia 2013 - singing

And what a show that was ! Amazing stage presence and tremendous band as well. This show was indeed quite the opposite of the first one described above as all the act of this band is based on interaction with the audience. In other words, the noisier and crazier the audience gets, the better the show will be. We had a few great moments during the show, when for instance Trombone Shorty went singing in the middle of the audience or when all the musicians switched their instruments (and were almost as good!).

Trombone Shorty - Olympia 2013

The records are very good but his shows are more than recommended so don’t miss the chance of seeing him live if he happens to play nearby.

MGMT Olympia 2013

One again, completely different style of music with MGMT. The duo of nerdy young Americans has recently published their third LP and thanks to Mr. G. who managed to get VIP tickets, this show was a good opportunity to check where the boys were musically speaking. In other words, after a few shows I found boring and a quite excited new LP, this tour was the perfect way for the band to show their impact on the current music landscape.

Andrew Wingarden - MGMT - Olympia 2013

As usual, the band was completed by musician friends on stage to honour their psychedelic sounds and songs. I must say however that despite the band being at 100% in the songs and despite the fact that the band has improved a lot live, something is missing… Difficult to know what : the fact that the songs are too complex and not emotional enough, the look of the band, them being too polite ? At the end of the day, I would really recommend MGMT’s records as they have something apart but must admit that they are not the most rockin’ band of all times.

The importance of being Built To Spill, La Maroquinerie, Paris, 20th September 2013

Back again at La Maroquinerie, probably my favourite gig’s place in Paris… to see one of my favourite bands.

Built To Spill, Paris 2013, band

This comment is probably to strong ; Built to Spill and their leader Doug Martsch have been doing excellent and solid records for years now but remain to my mind in the “very good” category. On stage though, this is something else and they really achieve greatness. This is not a coincidence that their best records by far is “Live” from 2000.

Built To Spill, Paris 2013, Doug Martsch on guitar

Disco Doom (from Switzerland) opened in a very nice way before leaving the stage to Built To Spill who tuned themselves their instruments as they usually do. No roadie there and mixed feelings in seeing such an experienced band doing it this way. Musicians are no millionaires anymore so one can really feel these guys being passionate as their first day to keep on doing it with such dedication.

Built To Spill, Paris 2013, drums and guitar

Excellent show at la Maroquinerie with the band playing songs from all stages and records of their career. Theirs is a mix of classic American guitar rock but Doug’s voice is what makes it different such beautiful it is. Built To Spill have great songs on their own but they are quite famous for their choices of covers and they way they make these songs truly theirs. Tonight was not different and their setlist was incorporating songs from Captain Beefheart, The Clash and moreover an amazing encore of The SmithsHow Soon is Now“.

Built To Spill, Paris 2013, Doug Martsch singing

Bryan Ferry – Paris, la Villette – 3th September 2013

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (14)

I know… Roxy MusicBryan Ferry… always blogging about my musical obsessions as if you did not get it yet… I swear I did not want to do any review on Bryan Ferry’s last show ! He was opening the excellent current “Jazz à la Villette” festival and I was even relieved to hear strict announcements from the logistics staff not to take any picture of any sort, thinking I would enjoy the show in the old-fashioned way, without any need to tell the world if it was great, ok or bad.

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (4)

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (16)

The thing is that there was such an atmosphere throughout the show and the theatre that a huge part of the crowd left their seats, went on dancing in front of the stage, taking pictures and all so I could not resist!

The show started weirdly with ten old (or even very old) jazz musicians revisiting Roxy Music classics, as described by the leader of the band. Interesting way of hearing with fresh ears amazing songs such as “Do the Strand” or “The Bogus Man” played in a 20’s jazz style by the Betty Boop Orch…no sorry, they were called the Bryan Ferry Orchestra. I am not saying I did not enjoy it as the songs were really arranged with taste and subtlety but it started to get thin after 20 minutes, which was exactly the moment Bryan Ferry got on stage with two great chorus singers for a splendid version of “Love is the Drug”. But for me, the show really got full ignition when arrived two fantastic musicians on stage : Cherisse Osei on drums and moreover Olivier Thompson on guitar (the guy is 25-year old but has been playing with Bryan Ferry since 2006!). I have read afterwards a few reviews criticising their arrival on stage but for me they allowed the show to keep on going forward. Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (11)

The great man himself was as elegant as ever and nobody in the audience really felt watching a 67-year old man on stage such his voice and his skills are as good as ever. The setlist was fantastic with many songs from his solo career, a lot of covers (Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Sam & Dave) but the real star songs of the show were as very often the Roxy Music ones. The set ended with a beautiful performance of “Editions of You” from the 1973 LP “For Your Pleasure“. A great evening !

Bryan Ferry, la Villette, 2013 (21)

Nine Inch Nails – Rock en Seine Festival – 24th August 2013

Trent Reznor, day

Always a good drug against depression to finish summer holidays with the Rock en Seine festival in the beautiful Saint Cloud Park near Paris. Lineup was excellent this year although the three days were not very well balanced to my mind (basically, you had difficult choices to do on Friday and very often…no real choice on Sunday).

Many great shows however this year (Johnny Marr, Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix, Eels for instance amongst others) but the real stars were by far Nine Inch Nails as far as I am concerned.

Band on stage

Trent Reznor had doubt about the future of his band and the great 2009 tour was called the “say hello wave goodbye” tour. He then went on concentrating on new challenges such as the soundtracks of the two latest great David Fincher’s movies (“The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”), got married and formed the low-key band How To Destroy Angels with wife and friends. However, after once again collaborating on a couple of songs with different collaborators, he realized that nothing was a good as his former band and here you are with a new Nine Inch Nails tour and record (out next week on the 3rd of september).

Trent Reznor, night

…and what a tour! I had been watching the August Lolapallooza show in Chicago which was fully available on YouTube and I was nothing more than flabbergasted by the intensity and musicality of it. I was therefore expecting with excitement my 4th NIN concert in Rock en Seine and the least I can say is that we the audience have been rewarded. Amazing quality all throughout the show with beautiful light and vision effects (but maybe not recommended for people with risks of epilepsy…).

His current band is full of energy and excellent and the setlist was a dream come true mixing tracks from all periods, from 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine to the next new LP. A bit frustrated as everyone probably by the duration of the show (1h15m) as often the case in festivals, where bands have to respect the schedule. But seeing again live the last track of the show “Hurt” as sung by its creator was very emotional as always.


This band is a treasure that you should all discover if not done yet and get over the pseudo “industrial tag” often put on them. Trent Reznor’s songs are beautiful, lively, energetic, poetic ; isn’t it what we are all looking for in our lives?

My Eurockéennes de Belfort 2013 festival experience

Ah, the pleasure in seeing again the Vosges mountains and the delicious Malsaucy lake and being back at “les Eurocks” as the festival attendees call it. That was indeed my 8th edition and probably one of the best thanks in particular to VIP invitations we got through my good friend Gilles. Indeed, no mud and very sunny this year…and many places to actually sit down and give a bit of a rest to our old bodies.

Radiohead, TV on the Radio, Pixies, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Nine Inch Nails, Daft Punk, Depeche Mode, Morrissey, Phoenix, Air, Massive Attack, Grinderman, Gnarls Barkley, Kanye West,… the list of great bands or artists I had seen from 2003 to 2009 is endless so how was this 25th edition ?

  • Day Two – 5th July 2013

No way for me to go to the first day as indeed the festival was held during four days this year to celebrate its specific anniversary so let’s start with Day Two.

Matthew E. White - Eurocks Belfort 2013

What a better way to start the festival than finally seeing summer arriving for Matthew E. White. This bearded guy from Michigan has recently done his first LP and his music is a mix of americana and soul, which made it a nice and easy enjoyable show.

Change of stage and mood (there are four of them in total, including the great “La Plage” one, where the stage is actually in suspension… above the water!) to see the young US Punk band Fidlar (meaning Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk – a skateboarder expression). Amazing energy and “joie de vivre” and more pogos that I have seen in my last twenty concerts.

Fidlar - Eurocks Belfort 2013 Woodkid - Eurocks Belfort 2013

The least I can say is that I felt utter disappointment on the contrary with Woodkid, the new French hype guy. Very pretentious and boring music, I may give him a second chance and listen to the record but really I did not enter his world to keep it nicely. The guy directed a couple of videos for Lana del Rey so the apple does not fall far from the tree as one says…

Today’s headliners were the Smashing Pumpkins, one of my favourite bands ever (I know, not in my Top 100, weird…) but I did not have great expectations as the only original member now is their leader Billy Corgan who plays with young musicians. How wrong I was ; they played a fantastic concert and their young drummer is particularly amazing. A very well-balanced set list with old and new songs, ballads and heavy monsters, hits and less famous songs. Go and see them if you can ; that was probably the best show of the week-end for me.

Smashing Pumpkins - Eurocks Belfort 2013

  • Day Three – 6th July 2013

Guest House - Eurocks Belfort 2013 Stand 2000 - Eurocks Belfort 2013

Always difficult to get away from our nice and relaxing guest house in the middle of the mountain to get back to the festival in the middle of thousands (127,000 people for the four days) of people, including a large majority of young girls and boys being there mainly to party and not giving a shit about bands playing. On the opposite, the festival brought many great street theatres troupes this year, including the hilarious Stand 2000 actors.

The Strypes - Eurocks Belfort 2013

The day started for me with the discovery of the very very young Irish band The Strypes. They are all between 15 and 17-year old and their drummer in particular looks like a young kid but boy, how they rock and withsuch style! A great discovery, let’s hope their 60’s rock influences will allow them to make great records and that they will age gracefully.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Robert Levon Been - Eurocks Belfort 2013 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Peter Hayes - Eurocks Belfort 2013

Talking about style, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are probably the best example of it. Still a trio but now with a new female drummer, their Jesus and Mary Chain meets psychedelic rock influences have aged beautifully and their set was a constant pleasure. Good to see them back on shape after all the personal dramas they lived in recent years.

I had great hopes for the Dan Auerbach (from the Black Keys)-produced soul singer Valerie June but I must admit that the most interesting thing was her dress…

Valerie June - Eurocks Belfort 2013

Back to “la Plage” then, first to hear one of the DJ sets from Pedro Winter (the former Daft Punk manager) mixing great records from The Rapture to LCD Soundsystem and  then announcing the arrival of Dinosaur Jr. I saw them last time in the Parisian winter but they were at ease playing under the sun and their set was great, despite Lou Barlow’s technical issues with his bass. They are one of the best bands ever so nothing else to say.

Dinsosaur Jr. - J. Mascis - Eurocks Belfort 2013 Dinosaur Jr. - Lou Barlow - Eurocks Belfort 2013

Lou Doillon - Eurocks Belfort 2013 Two Door Cinema Club - Eurocks Belfort 2013

After a few other partially-seen shows (Lou Doillon, nice but a bit dull – Is Tropical, energizing dance rock influenced by the Klaxons – Two Door Cinema Club, enjoyable but not exciting band – Fauve, new annoying French hype band), what I had left of energy was dedicated to Phoenix, the headliners of the third day. The way this band is now famous is quite reassuring as it means we could still find bands having success like R.E.M. had in the past for instance, i.e. keeping on believing in your music and deciding that people will finally come to you through hard work and good songs. I was a bit suspicious on my side as the last concert was not as great at the first ones but they were really good tonight and this tour has an excellent set-list, even if I would have liked to hear more old songs. But the new LP gets better and better with every listen and I hope I will enjoy them as much when I see them again in Rock en Seine in late August.

Phoenix - Eurocks Belfort 2013

  • Day Four – 7th July 2013

Are festivals tiring when the last day arrives : YES ! Is it ridiculous to still go to festivals when you are closer to 50-year old than 40 : PROBABLY ! Is it rewarding and will I keep going in rock festivals : YOU BET!

Palma Violets - Eurocks Belfort 2013

Fewer interesting bands to see today which was not a bad thing as quality is much crucial than quantity. The first band I saw were Palma Violets. I had seen them in the very tiny “Boule Noire” theatre last autumn for the festival des Inrocks in Paris and they have survived the hype, made a fine first LP “180” and are getting huge in the UK. They were probably the most energizing bands of the festivals and even if their music is still a bit rough (The Clash meets the Libertines), their attitude and the way they rock are fresh in the current music scene.

The Black Angels - Eurocks Belfort 2013

The music played by the Austin, Tx band The Black Angels on the “Grande Scène” is probably less energetic but their modern psychedelic rock makes them one of the current very solid bands. Their set was full of subtleties and seeing them under the Belfort sun reminded them probably of their beautiful Texas state.

From Australia, the Kevin Parker-lead band Tame Impala have been probably the hippest one last year, with their LP “Lonerism” elected album of the year by New Musical Express and in every music critics top 10 (including this site!). Not the kind a band you abandon yourself to at first sight, one has to enter their world step by step to truly appreciate their beautiful psychedelic (again!) music. Tame Impala - Eurocks Belfort 2013

My Bloody Valentine - Eurocks Belfort 2013

The last and only time I had seen My Bloody Valentine was in 1989 (with Happy Mondays as opening act!) and it has been quite marketed everywhere that their new excellent LP went out this year after a 22-year hiatus. I had read that their shoegazing music on stage was a torture for the ears but that was not true at all. For sure, better to have earplugs and sure again they are not the most talkative band ever but when things work, their music is a real beauty. The kind of bands totally apart from the rest of the music scene, like, say, The Cure (and not only for Kevin Shields haircut), the fact in having them around is a miracle per se.

Blur - Eurocks Belfort 2013

And here were at last, our last concert of the week, the reason we came back to “les Eurockéennes de Belfort” : B-L-U-R ! A truly great band amongst the great, they never really disbanded, even if Damon Albarn was working on hundreds of musical projects and Graham Coxon did not really know if he was still part of the band… They more or less reunited through friendship last year and did a fantastic new single “Under the Westway” so I was very excited to see them again after all these years. The guys were fit and showing us pleasure in being here (their only French date) and the show was great…as expected. It is true that it would really be good for them to make another LP but the songs they have are so good that the crowd was enjoying every moment of it. Very smart set list as well, starting with their “disco” hit Girls & Boys and finishing with four perfect songs. Seeing Blur is like feeling like Dorian Gray, especially at 1.30 am throughout the night after three tiring days!

Blur - Damon Albarn - Eurocks Belfort 2013

See you soon Belfort for a personal 9th edition.

Attendance - Eurocks Belfort 2013

Patti Smith, 28th June 2013, Paradiso, Amsterdam

 Patti Smith with open hands

She had an excellent band, with two original members of her seminal “Horses” LP (Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Lenny Kaye on guitar and vocals);

She was angry, happy, sad, full of contrasts, scary sometimes and did not like people filming her rather than enjoying the show ;

She had a fantastic set list, playing all the classics as if it was a question of life or death : “Birdland“, “Pissing in a River“, “Because the Night“, “Rock’n’roll Nigger” and the best song in the world ever “G-L-O-R-I-A” ;

Patti Smith on guitar

She introduced her band gently, with a specific mention of her son on guitar ;

She was so happy being back in Amsterdam that she did two sets at the legendary Paradiso theater and signed copies of her beautiful book “Just Kids” at the American Book Center ;

She is one of the greatest artists of our times, a poetess, a musician, a thinker, a human being who suffered, a person with fantastic survival instincts and creativity,

I was very happy to see her again live.

Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye

Big bands, small places : Queens of the Stone Age, Paris, Trianon, 19th June 2013 / The National, Paris, Point Ephémère, 24th June 2013

Two very good initiatives from these two great bands : before coming back to Paris in November in the middle of a proper tour, let’s meet the fans in small theatres and show them how we rock. Same principle : tickets on sale at noon sharp, both shows sold out in 15 seconds, one guest maximum and ID requested when entering the theatre. And yes, I must admit I have been fast to get my tickets !

QOTSA Paris June 2013 : band & logo

It had been a long time since I had enjoyed seeing Queens of the Stone Age on stage and the excitement was there, especially as it was my first experience of the band in a relatively small theatre. They are back with a gorgeous new LP (with many guests playing on it, including Sir Elton John –  no kidding) but moreover their leader Josh Homme is back with a new enthusiasm after having a near-death experience a couple of years ago following a complicated surgery.

As in every tour after a new album, the band faces always slight changes and this time we were having a new excellent drummer (Jon Theodore) replacing the great Joey Castillo who apparently ended up on bad terms with Josh Homme. This is always difficult to fully enjoy a set based on a new LP as one does not know already all its subtleties. The new tracks were really great however and bringing an excellent balance with the more famous ones. Amazing how this band keeps up growing and getting more and more popular ; who would have thought about it a few years ago?

QOTSA Paris June 2013 : Josh Homme

Go and get the record and come back to see them in November, such QOTSA are an incredible band on stage.

The National, Paris, June 2013 (Band)

Talking about tiny places, nothing beats the Point Ephémère ! This concert was really a last-minute surprise. The band had to cancel their Istanbul concert due to the demonstrations and riots that were occurring in Turkey and rather than taking a day off throughout their European tour, they decided to enjoy a small show with their French fans and Parisian friends. One of the two Dessner twins (sorry, I still did not manage to tell who is whom between both…) told us the story in a perfect French accent.

The National, Paris, June 2013 (Dessner & Devendorf)

Like for QOTSA, The National just had a new great LP out but I did not have the time to listen to it more than three times. Same feeling however of great new songs reaching the same level of excellence as their former catalogue. Their singer Matt Berninger was on top form and I had forgotten how intense the guy was on stage, being able to have an hyper-sensitivity through slow songs or singing in the audience like a lunatic.

The National, Paris, June 2013 (Matt Berninger)

Fantastic and very moving show for this band which is as well growing up with every album and new tour but still keeping their easiness and humility. Being Barack Obama’s favourite band is probably an asset… They will be back in Paris in November ; go and see them!

Old man / Young man : Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Paris, Bercy, 6th June 2013 / Kurt Vile & The Violators, Paris, Maroquinerie, 8th June 2013

“Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were” – Neil Young, “Old Man” , 1972

On the left corner, a giant of a musician, the one who almost never stopped doing great music in almost fifty years, on stage with his best band. On the right corner, the new breed, a young man on the rise, in the great tradition of beautiful songwriting with an edge in sound. So who won ?

  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 6th June


My last two Neil Young shows were in small venues (Grand Rex, Zenith) so saying I was delighted to go to Bercy to see him live would be a lie but with him being back with his old Crazy Horse amigos, there was not much choice. Neil Young is part of my personal Top 10 and the way the great man keeps on doing great records is really a constant joy. Tonight, the 67-year old Canadian was not on an acoustic mode (although he played a couple of songs alone on harmonica and guitar) but on a grungy one. Starting their great set list with “Love and only Love” from their 1990 “Ragged Glory” LP, the band played as they usually do, meaning in a very tiny space, very close one to the other, despite being on stage in a huge and cold arena.

After the very good surprise as well in seeing the excellent Californian band Los Lobos as opening act, Neil Young set went on with great power and energy and the least one can say is that the songs from last “Psychedelic Pill” LP are really on par with older ones. Once again, the only regret is to have to see Neil Young in an arena and I would recommend for those in the South West of France to go and get them when they play in Biarritz in July.

Nel Young & Crazy Horse, Bercy, 6th June, band in TV screen

One last word for our French speaking readers : there are currently two excellent readings about Neil Young : the first one is a special issue from les Inrockuptibles whereas the second one is a new bookzine called Muziq ; both are deeply recommended.

  • Kurt Vile & the Violators, 8th June

Kurt Vile, Paris, 8th June, singing

Change of atmosphere for Kurt Vile & The Violators at la Maroquinerie. My third Kurt Vile show after Austin in 2011 and le nouveau Casino in Paris in 2013, it was with great enthusiasm (and with a loved family member!) that I went to see him with his great band in this tiny and warmly theater. On top of it, la Maroquinerie has a restaurant where you can have a nice dinner before and after the show and in the past I had been lucky enough to have dinner near the Dears, Badly Drawn Boy, The Lemonheads or Shearwater for instance. This time I was indeed seated very near Kurt Vile who mechanically signed on the cover of the LP’s I had bought.

Kurt Vile & The Violators, Paris, 8th June 2013His show was… warmer I would say and after once again a very good opening act (Emily Wells), the band played like hell since the first song, the fantastic “Wakin on a Pretty Day” from the new LP. I suddenly realized that 33-year old Kurt Vile was not that different from what Neil Young probably was in his thirties : inventive, traditional, nice but no the most compromising person ever, great songs, the acoustic/electric duality, the way he plays with his musicians (Jesse Trbovich on guitar being a real jewel), and so on and so on… Kurt Vile, Paris, 8th June 2013, guitar solo

So I guess you got the point : Kurt Vile is an important artist and although the music business changed vs. what Neil Young faced when he started, I am sure this young man will be with us for a long time. Discover him if not done yet and you will be rewarded.

Kurt Vile, Paris, 8th June, alone

Three musicians and a leader : The Stone Roses, Paris, la Cigale, 4th June 2013

The Stone Roses reformed last year in the UK for massive shows. Their come-back is a beautiful story as their common career had not ended nicely. Seeing them back again together brings hope to the nature of the human being. They have been smart enough to realize theirs was unfinished business and put their ego behind them. This introduction might seem to you pseudo philosophical but it is essential to know about these facts to understand what this band is about and personally rarely had I felt such a feeling of love on stage. Yes, really…

Mani, La Cigale, 2013 Reni, La Cigale, 2013 John Squire, La Cigale, 2013 Ian Brown, La Cigale, 2013

Back to facts and music now!

  • The crowd : 50% of British citizens, out of which 99% of Northern guys (a few of them wearing the traditional Reni hat), living the time of their lives by seeing their favourite band in such a tiny place. Great atmosphere by the way with the crowd singing every hit song
  • The set list : fantastic ! Starting as usual with “I Wanna Be Adored”, with all the hits, an amazing 15-minute (?) version of “Fool’s Gold” and of course “I Am The Resurrection” as grand finale to finish the set with. I realized as well how good the songs from the “Second Coming” LP were and this is clearly an album to (re)discover
  • The band : this is quite simple here as we have three musical geniuses and one leader. Reni on drums = amazing funky/rock feeling ; Mani on bass = the rhythm machine ; John Squire on guitar = the kind of guy you would like to listen to endlessly such his skills are great. So now to Ian Brown… yes, indeed, his voice might not be the high point of the band but I must say it was quite ok that night and overall he clearly is the one leading the band with his charisma. In other words, this band is great and part of music history and would have been nothing alike without the four members.

Get over this current trend of comeback hype as this band really deserves full respect. And the guys were as thin as they used to be, which is not always the case for these types of moments (hello Pixies !).

The Stone Roses, La Cigale, 2013