Tuesday, November 28, 2006
It's not often that a crowd this stylish, with such sharp profiles, neat hair and great skin pack out The Corner. Plainly these people know what they were coming for, and it's not to hear a couple of regurgitated well-known soundtracks. Yann Tiersen is evidently far more comfortable and even more adored, for returning to his Euro-rock roots than getting all tinkly with piano and projector as many may expect.
Kicking off the evening in fine style is Qua who got a bit tinkly with a xylophone and used a projector very well - constantly referring to the images behind him as he triggered, tweaked, scrolled and strummed his warm melodic tones, skittery beats and occasional vibratoed Danelectro guitar. The visuals are a combination of storybook imagery, exciting 50s musical TV and retro sci-fi which matched his sounds really well. At once hyperkinetic and poignant (a rare feat indeed), his songs promote warm intimacy and never sound too familiar. Though not one of his most engaging sets, he is still a great choice as opener.
Familiar could also describe the occasional riff as it turned up amidst Yann Tiersen's post-Euro-rock-punk set which is, in part, a reworking and expanding of his music known from films interspersed with the odd vocal and new song. These latter stand out as sounding more like a rock band writing together than reinterpreting music written for other instruments, particularly on new track La Rade. High points for many it seemed were the songs where the band left the stage to Tiersen, or pared down to just he and guitarist Marco, and out came the violin which he proceeded to play in a frentic, obviously schooled, but totally un-showy way. Often droning an open string or playing fifths, a violin has rarely sounded so full and alive. These times when atmosphere took precendence over sonic force was where Tiersen's abilities as a performer and composer really shine. Though his rock songs really are the odd equation of French rock + hints of Sonic Youth, The Brodsky Quartet and The Cult. It is really all about melody and a having a hard, energetic backing for it.
His songs are performed using a cellist/violinist (who played the latter as the former), a steadily sweating guitarist (equally adept at making melody from a power drill as a plectrum), a drummer, a very rock and hirsuit bassist and himself (playing variously: toy piano, accordian, guitar and violin). Songs frequently end in a repeated riff and two chord backing for a minute followed by an abrupt halt. No mistake, this band are tight, and their instrumentals rarely flag, again due to that nice line in orchestrated melody he possesses, something the audience love. Screaming for an encore they were rewarded with a ten minute epic We Thank You Once Again(?) and some more inspired violin-playing from the man who showed that even the sharpest Francophiles can rock out, when it's played this well.