posted on November 21, 2009 18:00
Of course, the big news from Paris is the fall-out from last Wednesday's World Cup qualifier. After the extraordinary events of the game, thousands of fans in green and white gathered on the Champs-Elysées, which had to be closed. A minority of troublemakers chanting anti-French slogans clashed with riot police. The upshot is that France has been plunged into self-questioning about its moral and cultural position.
Yes, it was certainly a major event, Algeria's win over Egypt and qualification for next year's finals.
In other news, you might have heard that Ireland lost controversially to France in our own play-off match. Your correspondent was at the Stade de France with the travelling Irish fans; it was an incredible evening with a heartbreaking finale. But thankfully we Irish haven't lapsed into undignified self-pity, crass rabble-rousing and sanctimonious moralising on the national airwaves.
The night before, Dublin retro-rocker Imelda May had given a tonic for the troops at a small cabaret bar near Bastille called Le Réservoir. On page two of The Ticket in last Friday's Irish Times you may have seen the striking photo (right) by Paris freelance snapper Rafael Gomez Enriquez (check out his impressive website for more of his concert shots and pictures from his travels), with a few words from your CLUAS Foreign Correspondent (Paris) underneath. In such an intimate venue, especially one up a side-street and with motorbikes outside, May's brand of rockabilly and blues felt exciting and authentic. It's hard to see how she can capture that feeling on record or in an enormodome like the O2 in Dublin - so Irish expats should take advantage of May's tentative steps in foreign cities and smaller clubs.
Speaking of the Irish Times, you might have seen Jim Carroll's rave report on Canadian indie-folk-rockers Hey Rosetta! (The exclamation mark is theirs, not ours.) Well, the band were in Paris this weekend so your correspondent went to check them out. They took part in an independent music symposium on Saturday afternoon but we decided to see them the night before as part of a new band event at Le Gibus, a club between République and the Canal Saint-Martin.
Only a dozen or so people showed up to see their show, a 25-minute slot between some energetic Libertines-loving schoolkids and a dire hard rock band. Happily, On The Record was on the money: Hey Rosetta! were wonderful. Their vibe is proudly epic and aspirational and poetic, something like Mike Scott's 'big music' from the mid-'80s or a rocked up version of DM Stith's widescreen dreamscapes. (Tim Baker's voice, soaring yet sensitive, is especially evocative.) But their music is still melodic and tightly constructed, without a pick of self-indulgence. They haven't any Irish show lined up at the moment but that's sure to change: make sure you see them.
We hear you in Dublin were also treated to a special concert lately: the double bill of St Vincent and Grizzly Bear. On Saturday night their European tour reached La Cigale in Paris - barely. En route from the Crossing Borders festival in The Hague their tour bus broke down, meaning that both acts arrived in Paris two hours late. All this time the venue doors were closed and fans had to queue along Pigalle for those two hours.
As soon as the doors opened, St Vincent went straight onstage for a shortened set of only four songs. Because fans were still trying to get into the venue when she started, most people missed the first song and many missed the second and third. Your correspondent missed the first two. (Something similar happened for her at La Route du Rock: her set started just as the gates were opening, meaning that a lot of her French fans also missed the start of her show there too - so Saturday night must have seemed like a bad joke to them.) Then Annie Clark's fans were stunned and angry to hear her say goodnight after fourth song 'Marrow'. It was almost as disappointing as events in the Stade de France (for the Irish in the audience at least).
Grizzly Bear, for their part, got in a good hour onstage. (Paris venues must obey a strict and punitive curfew, so a late finish wasn't possible.) We had been disappointed with them at La Route du Rock in August when their sound seemed vapid and disjointed - but indoors we could hear better the heavy echo effects on vocals and instruments, making for a more satisfying experience. Feist, living in Paris, joined the band to coo along to a glorious 'Two Weeks'. And the encore version of 'He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)' was agreeably odd and unsettling. Unfortunately, earlier events conspired to somewhat spoil the mood, especially for St Vincent fans. But in hindsight and hindhearing Grizzly Bear were great. Just don't ever take a lift off them - as well as Saturday's breakdown they had a minor bus crash in Austria earlier in the week, thankfully with no serious injury or damage.
So, an eventful few days for us in Paris. This coming week we hope to see Evan Dando on Monday night at the launch of the newly-refurbished Flèche d'Or, the legendary indie venue that was closed for major soundproofing works earlier this year. On Tuesday night there's a fantastic line-up at the Nouveau Casino: The Antlers, Cymbals Eat Guitars and Liquid Architecture, all for just 15 euros. (Please don't let anything happen to their bus...) And Yo La Tengo are playing the Bataclan on Sunday night.
Anyway, from Saturday night's ill-fated show at the Cigale, here's Grizzly Bear and Feist (looking quite feisty with those boxing moves) doing 'Two Weeks':