The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

01

There have been so many Irish acts playing in the Paris region lately that your blogger, despite his best intentions, hasn't been able to see them all.

We caught Duke Special and Nina Hynes, of course, but we didn't see The High Llamas, Leanne Harte or The Immediate, who we fear took our absence as a snub, causing existential problems that saw them breaking up on their return to Eire. Sorry about that.

Anyway, we promise to be more diligent - with immediate effect. Neosupervital play at the Fleche d'Or in Paris tonight (1 June). 

We'll be there; report to follow. Promise.

 


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31

Pair o' strikers: French punk-pop duo PravdaNamed after the Communist Russia news organ and not the Northside Dublin bar, Pravda (right) are a duo of Mac from Paris and Sue from Bordeaux.

They make sneering, arrogant, cooler-than-thee punk-pop which owes so much to Pil, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Joy Division and The Buzzcocks that they've probably had to take out a third mortgage by now.

Of course, that doesn't matter because they sound brilliant. More impressively, they combine pop thrills with haughty Parisian cool, which we wish more French acts would do instead of trying to be sensitive artistes. But there you are.

Listen to some Pravda tracks on their MySpace page - we recommend 'Je Suis French', a song that looks down on you like the peasant you are.

Also, have a look and a listen to the video for their single 'Body Addict':


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31

The best French album ever is Serge Gainsbourg's 'Histoire De Melody Nelson' from 1971, a concept album about an older man's infatuation with an underage English girl (from Sunderland!). Despite this dodgy premise, it's actually a thoughtful and dreamy record.

The album is a showcase for the trademark Gainsbourg sound - soulful basslines, acoustic guitars and swooning symphonic strings. Air built a career from it; acts from Radiohead to Pulp to Massive Attack have been profoundly influenced by it. Gainsbourg's daughter Charlotte drew heavily on her father's style for her fine 2006 album '5:55'.

Jane Birkin (Gainsbourg's partner and co-vocalist), whose heavy breathing and groaning had caused 'Je T'aime (Moi Non Plus)' to be banned by radio stations and condemned by the Vatican, only has a short cameo on this record. This time her sound effects were confined to her horsey laugh, but she features on the album cover. Trivia: on the day the photo was taken she was pregnant with Charlotte but had not yet told Serge.

The highlight is 'Ballade De Melody Nelson', a short but gorgeous little song which opens with one of pop's greatest basslines. Then Gainsbourg croons like a tragic hero and the whole thing is over in less than two minutes.

The video, which you can watch here or below, is just as wonderful, like a message from Planet Groovy. Birkin twirls like a true early-Seventies hippychick, while Serge is just untouchably cool:


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28

Only after the event did we find out about Leanne Harte playing at the New Morning in Paris last May 10, as support to (of all people) Mott The Hoople singer Ian Hunter.

It was by no means the Dublin singer-songer's first French capital concert. She was here on October 10 last to play an acoustic show at the Cafe de la Danse, to promote her self-titled debut album.

If, like your correspondent, you missed her show (and at least you probably have the excuse of not living in Paris), Harte has helpfully released a live recording with the Gershwin-esque title of 'An Irishgirl In Paris'. It features acoustic versions of songs from her debut, some new original tracks and a cover of 'Pretty Good Year' by Tori Amos.

From the aforementioned concert and live CD, here's Harte singing 'Hard To Grasp':


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27

Now that the Champions League final has closed the season, and with no tournament this summer, we football addicts must depend on the Tour de France, Kerry v Cork in the Munster Final, British Open golf and so forth, to keep us going until normal life resumes in mid-August.

The French Open tennis championship begins today on the distinctive red clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris. Fans here will no doubt hope for Amelie Mauresmo to provide a rare home victory.

One of those previous French winners, 1983 men's winner Yannick Noah, has since become one of France's biggest pop stars. After retiring from tennis he started performing rock songs and touring small provincial venues, often to mixed receptions of curiosity and derision.

He subsequently adopted a more successful sound of light reggae-pop, and his second career was born. Noah now headlines summer festivals and fills venues around the country, and is arguably more famous now as a pop star than as a tennis star (he also advertises a brand of underpants). His son Joachim, playing college basketball in the USA, is on the way to becoming a huge sports star too.

Born in Cameroon of an African father and white French mother, Noah sings mainly about social issues like racial harmony - though lyrically he tends towards self-help-book feelgood inspiration rather than angry polemic.

Still, he was a vocal supporter of Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal in the recent election and, along with other high-profile stars like footballer Lilian Thuram, he publicly criticised conservative candidate (and eventual winner) Nicolas Sarkozy's heavy-handed approach to immigration policy.

His biggest hit so far has been his catchy 2005 single 'Métisse', about taking pride in his mixed-race identity, which also features France's sharpest rapper, Disiz La Peste. Watch the video below:

 


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25

Say hello, (new) wave goodbye: Nouvelle vagueNouvelle Vague (or 'new wave' in English), playing in Dublin this weekend, scored a surprise hit album with their eponymous 2004 collection of acoustic versions of - voilà! - new wave and punk classics by acts like The Cure, Depeche Mode and Joy Division. (Sacrilegiously, they also covered 'Teenage Kicks'.)

Their gimmick was to have the songs sung by young female French singers familiar with neither the originals or the English language, hence the (at the time) freshness of their versions (their cover of 'Too Drunk To F**k' by The Dead Kennedys is quite fun to listen to).

One of these singers, Camille, went on to release a smashing 2005 album called 'Le Fil', full of quirky pop songs and inventive vocalising.

By the time of last year's second album, 'Bande A Part' (the title of a nouvelle vague movie by Jean-Luc Godard), the joke seemed to have worn a little thin.

Still, here's their version of New Order's "Blue Monday", recorded for a TV show backstage at Glastonbury:

 

 

 


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20

Cannes do: U2 perform at the Cannes premiere of 'U2-3D'

When they premiered the Rattle and Hum movie in Dublin in 1988, U2 came out onto the balcony of the Savoy Cinema and played a short set for their fans below on O'Connell Street.

The premiere of their second cinema release, U2 - 3D, was a bit more upmarket - a concert on the steps of the Palais des Festivals at Cannes.

The band played 'Vertigo' and 'Where The Streets Have No Name' before leaving the stage to attend the premiere of their film, which is due for general release later this year.

 Watch the short concert below:


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17

The 60th Cannes Film Festival opened last night with the premiere of 'My Blueberry Nights', the film which marks the acting debut of jazz chanteuse Norah Jones.

Irish musicians will also be present at cinema's most illustrious shindig. Duke Special will play at the Irish Film Board's showcase reception, and John Carney's film 'Once', starring Glen Hansard, will be screened at the industry market.Bullet the big screen: U2's new concert film will be premiered at Cannes 2007

Most notable of all will be the premiere of 'U2 - 3D', a concert film chronicling the band's Vertigo tour as it travelled around South America in February 2006.

As the title suggests, the film is in 3-D - it will go on general release later this year. Let's just hope that it's better than 'Rattle And Hum'...

Here's the cinema trailer:

 


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16

We'll always have Paris: The Immediate

The Immediate, recent visitors to Paris, have split up. There's not necessarily a connection between the two events - although, mind you, The Doors were never quite the same after Jim moved here.

Anyway, courtesy of French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles and their regular Inrocks Indie Club concert nights, you can watch the band performing 'A Ghost In The House' live at La Maroquinerie in Paris on 19 April last. You need Real Player to see it - if you're at work, tell your boss you need it for a really flashy presentation or something.

Just follow this link, click on the song title and voila  - you don't even need to understand the French bits.


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15

1995: Newly-elected French president Jacques Chirac decides, as a first show of authority, to carry out nuclear tests in the South Pacific. The tests are met with worldwide protests.

Dropping the bombshell: Bono at the 1995 MTV Europe Music AwardsIn November of that year the MTV Europe Music Awards are staged in Paris. U2 are named Best Group, and Bono uses the occasion (see picture, right) to address a live TV audience of millions about the topical issue of the moment:

"What a city! What a night! What a crowd! What a bomb! What a mistake! What a w*nker you have for President! What are you gonna do about it?!? Tell me you're gonna do something about it!"

The crowd start boo-ing. You can just make out The Edge's gaping astonishment. Behind them, Adam is asking someone to explain it to him.

Since then, Bono's improved his manner of talking about world leaders.
 


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Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.