Yann Tiersen Glasgow ABC 1, 9th May 2009
Yann Tiersen will forever be associated with soundtracking Jean Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 cinematic masterpiece, Amelie. This would appear to be a fact which annoys him. In turn, his annoyance seems to annoy a lot of his fans.
A quick google the day before the gig revealed a lot of disappointed gig reviews. The general consensus seemed to be that, while, on record, the music he makes seems perfectly designed for twee, quirky indie kids to fall in love with other twee, quirky indie kids to, live, he has shunned the sound which made him famous.
And it’s understandable how some people could be confused. Here’s what The List had to say as a preview to the show:
“Favouring the piano, accordion and violin…The 38-year-old has revolutionised the simple waltz and collaborated with a handful of classical greats. A modern day Chopin.”
With words like that. You may expect a tastefully respectable show that you wouldn’t mind taking your granny along to. What you wouldn’t expect was two hours of wailing feedback that sounded like Mogwai overcoming their fear of Satan by kicking him squarely in the balls. That’s what you get though. And, for the most part, it was brilliant!
Before that though, there was the small matter of the support act. The ticket said ‘plus guests’. I had heard nothing about who was supporting him this tour. As we stood front and centre, it took a full 60 seconds or so of staring at a vaguely familiar cardboard cutout letters about a foot from my face before the penny dropped and I realised I was going to see Remember Remember again. Even if I was unsure about what I was going to think of the main act, at least I knew I was in a safe pair of hands with the support.
They played more or less the same set I’ve seen them do a few times now over the last year and a half. Albeit with sampled sellotape and scissors sounds on Fountain/Mountain rather than being played live. There were a few more people on stage with them than last time I saw them and this served to beef up the sound a bit. The set was as great as ever and I really hope they won a few new fans but right now all I really want to hear from them is new material. According to a recent interview with Glasgow Podcart, it’s in the works and I, quite frankly, cannae wait.
Onto the main course then.
As the roadies set up the stage, there were signs that there might still be a nod to the traditional sound when two violins and a toy guitar were carefully set up on stands. That idea was put to bed the second the band hit the stage and started playing though. Immediately building up walls of howling guitars and rumbling bass.
Toto, I don’t think we’re in Monmartre any more.
Somewhere around four songs into the set, when the existance of the violins hadn’t even been acknowledged by Yann, I started to suspect they were nothing more than set decoration and were just a cruel joke, put there to taunt the old fans who were expecting to see ‘Amelie Live’.
When he finally did pick up the violin, he played it with a fury and ferocity that somehow sounded even more threatening than his guitar. within seconds of starting, strings were snapping off the bow.
He finished with a version of La Valse D’Amelie which was so different from the original that it took a few minutes to even recognise it. This version sounded more like ‘10,000 htz legend’ era Air (when they were at their most Pink Floyd sounding) and was utterly beguiling.
All in, I think I recognised two, maybe three songs that he played all night, despite being fairly fluent with his back catalogue. If I hadn’t been prewarned about the way he sounjds live these days, I might have been disappointed. As it was, I thought it was for the most part fantastic. I’m curious if this sound will persist through to his next album. I suspect it won’t but I kind of hope it does.