The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Slacking off as usual, your Paris correspondent didn’t go to day two of Solidays. Because we live near the festival site, we felt complacent. Two hours of queuing tend to dampen one’s enthusiasm for standing in a field. Speaking of damp, the weather forecast was bad. And the line-up wasn’t much better. The one exception was MC Solaar, who we hear put on a blistering show of his greatest hits.

We were saving ourselves for what, if Sky Sports held the rights to French music festivals, Richard Keys would no doubt have been calling Super Grand Slam Solidays Sunday. Getting up at the crack of noon, we dashed over to Longchamps in fear of another stretch in the queues. As it happened, we strolled through the gate in all of two seconds. And the weather was fantastic. (It was raining in Eire. But then again, isn’t it always?)

In terms of seeing favourite bands, Friday had been a bust. Sunday was different. First up, young Grenoble trio Rhesus. Our regular readers will recall how we have nothing but encouragement for them and any other French band ploughing the lonely furrow of ‘la pop anglaise’. They clearly love ‘Disintegration’ by The Cure for its lovelorn sincerity and charming melodies. While there’s some way to go yet before they hit such dizzy creative heights themselves, they have potential.

The Ting Tings at Solidays 2008The hipper Solidays-goers squeezed into the small circus tent for the day’s hottest/coolest act, The Ting Tings (right). Entering to the first verse of ‘Once In A Lifetime’ by Talking Heads, one feared they had set the bar too high. But no, Katie White and Jules de Martino put on a ferocious show of punk-stained art-pop. Catchy and exciting tunes like "That's Not My Name" are vastly superior to the laboured rawk-isms of fellow boy-girl duo The Kills.

That said, their guitar technician was having a bad day. On a few occasions White wound herself up for an explosive intro only to find herself flogging a dead axe. Apply within.

Indie cred topped up for the day, your blogger dashed over to another tent for some trashy pop thrills. We have a soft spot for the dayglo disco-pop of Yelle. It’s pure kitsch, but so what? It’s great fun. Yelle herself, only recently discovered on the Internet, performs with the wide-eyed wonder of a normal young girl whose dreams of stardom have just come true. Her energy, colour and cheekiness are hard to resist; her current hit ‘Je Veux Te Voir’ goes “I want to see you/In a pornographic film/to know everything about your anatomy”. How do you follow that?

Well, with Foals, as it happened. We were impressed by their debut album, ‘Antidotes’, and found they shared Vampire Weekend’s cosmopolitan vibes. Alas, their live show feels like a rather tedious jam session. The band members were facing each other instead of the crowd, and what sounded like grooves on record felt like ruts on stage. A pity.

For the indie kids at Solidays, the weekend’s climax was Sunday night’s show by The Gossip. And it was as good as a fireworks display.

Beth Ditto of The Gossip at Solidays 2008 in ParisHerself (left) was in top form. Dressed in her underwear and wrapped in what looked like a lace curtain from your granny’s bedroom window, Beth Ditto padded barefoot around the stage like a lioness. But all was not well; there were tears in paradise. “I shaved my eyebrows without any water,” she explained, “and now they burn!” She bravely surmounted her suffering and inspired her troops to an intoxicating performance, mixing funk and rock the way teenagers mix cider and lager.

Granny took her drapes back; for the encore Ditto came out in underwear and with a towel wrapped around her head. She sung “Standing In The Way Of Control” from down the front of stage, pressing the flesh with the first row of punters. Set finished, she scaled a speaker stack to soak up the adulation.

Then she realized that she couldn’t get down. Roadies rushed around and Ditto started to panic slightly. Finally, after an age, she clambered down the rigging into the arms of a security hulk, as a phalanx of photographers crowded round to capture this international incident. What a star.

Here's Beth Ditto onstage with The Gossip at Solidays in Paris last Sunday night:

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Nuggets from our archive

2002 - Interview with Rodrigo y Gabriela, by Cormac Looney. As with Damien Rice's profile, this interview was published before Rodrigo y Gabriela's career took off overseas. It too continues to attract considerable visits every month to the article from Wikipedia.