The Violent Femmes – Palais Omnisports de Paris (29 November 2006)

The problem with deeply trying to compensate for your pitiful existence by trawling round the world to see rock ‘n’ roll bands is that it can just help to further emphasise your shortcomings. In this instance the complete sange l’isle-ness of knowing absolutely nothing of the local language. As a result, we eventually traipse into POP Bercy to find The Violent Femmes a good fifteen minutes into their set (tonight they are support, and we stood in the buying tickets queue – although we couldn’t really see another one).

Finally inside, our hearts sunk to ralise that this really was as huge and cavernous a sportsdrome as it appeared to be from outside. And worse, we appeared to be as far away from the stage and high up as you could possibly get without being on top of the Eiffel Tower with a set of binoculars. Thankfully a good deal of pushing, shoving, arm-chancing and shouts of “we’re English” managed to get us maneuvered onto the main forecourt. At which point we realise that the Parisienne crowd were being far too laissez faire to be getting into where the real action was. Le fools.

For, neither the cavernous venue or muddy, muddy sound can detract from the sheer gloriousness of this band. The set varies little from earlier this year (it is a support slot). But, they seem to be more fully embracing the bluegrass elements of that. The second drummer plays only tea chest now. Dr Chadbourne is more bonkers (it’s the ‘electric rake’ tonight). and, we have the addition of Gordon Gano‘s gospel singer sister Cynthia Gayneau (the proper spelling, apparently) helping out on vocals.

What can I add? I love this band. Have done since I first saw them on TV at a formative age back in ’83. It took me long enough to get round to seeing them (first time in 2000) and they just blow my socks off. The fact that they are expanding their (distinctive) sound in a direction I was sorta heading in myself, is nice too. Now all we need is a new album.

And, I still pity the Coldplay fan.

Headliners Louise Attaque have the greatest light show I’ve seen since the time I started floating at The Cure‘s Disintegration tour. I’m sure they are regarded as some sort of gallic Pogues in certain quarters, but their plodding attempts at being dubby and lumpen rock really only put me in mind of Midnight Oil – and, I can’t even recollect what they were like other than baldy.

We abandon the venue about 20 minutes into their set (maybe they got suddenly amazing, but I doubt it). As we leave we notice a second stage being dismantled. Later we find out that in fact this has been a one off reformation of Louise Attaque. It is a replay of a mini-festival with the proceeds going to several cool charities. There were several other french bands plating at various points. If only we’d understood the language…

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Written by Tony Kiernan

02 December 2006 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Gigs

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