Monday, 25 December 2017

Johnny Hallyday: Noel Interdit

Given the momentous events in the past few weeks, it was only fair that we give Johnny Hallyday a mention on Christmas Day.

A 1973 acoustic version of Noel Interdit on TV, with Jane Birkin watching on.

If the death of David Bowie shook fans - and at the end of the day anyone who was into music in a big way had to be a fan of Bowie -  the death of Johnny meant France lost not only their Elvis, but their Beatles, Stones, Tom Jones and Bruce Springsteen at once.

The French music landscape in 2018 will be a very different one from previous years. Whatever your view about Johnny, there was no denying his presence. He was measure against which, in music terms, success, celebrity, popularity, and career could be measured.

So 2018 will see a posthumous album recorded in 2017, but there will be no promised rock and blues tour. Stadiums and arenas across France will each stand empty and silent one extra night.

We'll never see the likes of Johnny Hallyday again.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Anggun: What We Remember

French star Anggun is currently appearing as a judge on Asia's Got Talent for the second time, but
she's still found the time to release a new single entitled What We Remember.

The song gives a flavour of Anggun's most recent album,  an English-language collection entitled 8. Throughout her career she's released material in French, English and Indonesian, normally with an English and French version of each album.

Her last album was 2015's Toujours un ailleurs, and rather than record an English version of that collection, she went instead on to record completely new material in English for the 8 album.

Anggun is a hugely successful French Asian artist, reaching an international audience following her move to France from Indonesia in the late 90s, her Au nom de la lune album establishing her in France after generating huge sales and a Victoires de la musique nomination. 

She's gone on to sell millions of copies of subsequent albums, become one of Indonesia's most high profile celebrities and become a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

If there's something that looks a bit familiar in the video, it's maybe the bridge. If you've seen the Orelsan video for the track Basic, the scenes for Anggun's video were shot at the same location in Ukraine.

It's a small world after all!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Bertrand Cantat: L'Angleterre

There will always be a problem with Bertrand Cantat. His return as a solo artist following the years of Noir Desir and later with Detroit has been matched by the storm over the events that separated those musical endeavours, his killing of  Marie Trintignant and subsequent prison sentence.

The decision by Les Inrocks to feature Cantat on the front cover, to interview him and the arguments, polemics and debates that followed showed quite clearly that the death of Marie Trintignant will never be forgiven or forgotten. The very question of whether or not Cantat is allowed by society to be a public figure remains unresolved, and is unlikely ever to be.

In the meantine, Cantat's debut solo album Amor Fati came out at the beginning of the month, with the song L'Angleterre released as a single. It would of course be convenient to write Cantat off completely, but he was an outstanding artist before the killing, one whose worldview and politics were seemingly in the right place, and to a large extent that is what he remains, albeit with something of an elephant in the room.

Cantat's always been a politically aware artist, and this song has Brexit England as its target. With refugees fleeing the horrors of their homelands, England decides it wants its money back. For those running for their lives, Cantat tells us, there's no light at the end of the Channel Tunnel.

The hopeless guardsmen in the video are as accurate a metaphor for the pathetic situation England has chosen for itself as you can imagine. Tradition, ridiculous costume and the folk memory of an imagined military might from the past is all that there is left.

Even the Beatles flavour of the music is appropriate, again reminding us that while European countries are facing the future and the difficulties that are involved in that, England chooses to look back to the past.

While there's always been an argument (usually from me) about the French using the word L'Angleterre (England) to describe the UK, in this instance I'd say it's perfectly justified. Scotland didn't vote for Brexit and neither did Northern Ireland, both countries instead wanting a peaceful future as part of Europe, with the benefits of co-operation and friendship. Cantat's right to target l'Angleterre rather than the Royaume Uni  here.

I remember Renaud's Miss Maggie making the news in the UK when it was released in France. Politicians in the UK questioned how a French singer could dare criticise the British PM. That same arrogance towards our fellow European countries is now leading the country towards a very bleak future. I doubt Cantat's criticism of England will now even register with the media in the UK.

Cantat's got a tour in March April and May of next year, where the next round of the Cantat debate will play out. He plays the Olympia in Paris on May 29.

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Les Oxalis

A new video by Charlotte Gainsbourg, with an appropriately sombre clip for Les Oxalis.

The track again comes from her Rest album, released last month and arguably her finest work.

I'm a big fan of her previous albums, and this one may even surpass those. It's a crafted and dense work, with much to take in.

If there were any doubt that Gainsbourg was a successful actor whose music work could be regarded as a side project, this album made clear that she very much remains a unique musical artist, deserving of the commercial success and critical praise she's received.

It's another extraordinary clip, the video for Les Oxalis was, like her previous video for Lying with you, directed by Gainsbourg herself.

Gainsbourg stars in the film La Promesse de l'Aube, due to be released in France on December 20.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Art Rock festival and the return of Marquis de Sade

With festival details continuing to emerge in recent days, the Art Rock festival held in Saint-Brieuc in Brittany is the latest to confirm their headline act and it's an interesting one for sure.

In a well-curated decision, Rennes-based act Marquis de Sade, one of the original post punk acts are set to headline.

Marquis de Sade were heavily influenced by UK post punk, and were active from 1977 to 1981, releasing two albums in their career, Dantzig Twist (1979) and Rue de Siam (1981).  Essentially a three piece with supporting musicians, their career may have been short, but they left a memorable impression and were one of the acts that helped establish Rennes as a credible place for music.

Their sound had an angular modern flavour with a taste of funk, more sophisticated that the reheated rock n roll revival sounds of many punk bands. While pioneers of cold wave rock, there's something of UK 70s prog outsiders Van de Graaf Generator in what they do, albeit perhaps more streamlined.

Their work stands well alongside UK contemporaries like Magazine or Gang of Four but also with later acts like The Cure and Bauhaus.

Marquis de Sade signalled their return with a gig at Le Liberté in Rennes in September, although apparently it was to be a one off performance.

The 35th festival Art Rock is held at Saint-Brieuc on May 18, 19 and 20. More acts are to be announced in forthcoming weeks.

Moodoïd: Au Pays Des Merveilles de Juliet on  C à vous

Another great appearance on last week, with Moodoïd performing Au Pays Des Merveilles de Juliet
on the France 5 evening chat show.

Moodoïd are one of the recent French acts I've had the pleasure of following over the past few years, from underground act to their debut album, and now hopefully some mainstream success. It's certainly well deserved.

The song is a cover of a track originally by Yves Simon and it features on Moodoïd's five track Reptile EP that came out in November, alongside two versions of the title track and the songs Miss Smith and Planète Tokyo.

Moodoïd made a welcome return to live appearances last month, with a show at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris as part of the Les inrocks festival.

There are no plans for any other live dates at the moment, but I'm sure the prospect of more gigs cannot be far away.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Orelsan for We Love Green festival

French rapper Orelsan is the second headliner to be announced for this summer's
We Love Green festival at the Bois de Vincennes in the east of Paris in June,

Bjork was confirmed as the other headline act a few weeks ago, making her only 2018 appearance in France on Sunday June 3.

Orelsan has a French tour in 2018, but it has already widely sold out including two dates at the Bercy arena in Paris in March.

Orelsan's La fête est finie was one of 2018's most significant releases, marking the rapper's return as a solo artist after his success as part of the Casseurs Flowters duo.

Last summer We Love Green featured Justice, Solange and Benjamine Clementine, the two day event hosting three stages of musical acts, others hosting events including talks, films and debates that reflect the environmentally aware tone of the event.

Held in the largest public park in Paris, the festival aims to be ecologically sustainable, and features events to raise awareness of environmental issues as well as hosting a well-curated selection of musical artists from indie-rock to dance and electronic.

We Love Green 2018 is being held on the weekend of June 2 and 3 and tickets are already on sale.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Roméo Elvis: Nappeux

However you measure it, there's something very strange about the Atomium building in Brussels. It's a landmark like no other, sitting over the city like something from a science fiction movie.

It's an appropriate visual metaphor for the video by Roméo Elvis for the track Nappeux.

French rapper Grems also makes an appearance on the track which was produced by Le Motel. It originally featured on the Roméo Elvis/Le Motel album Morale 2 which is being re-issued as a deluxe edition next year.

Some of the video is shot at the Théâtre royal des Galeries, a more traditional landmark for the city but it's the Atomium that makes it clear that the action for Roméo Elvis' track centres on Brussels.

La Magnifique Society Festival

French music festival details are coming in thick and fast, with the schedule for the summer's music
events looking like a busy one again.

Today a mention for the La Magnifique Society festival in Reims in June. It's a three day event at the heart of France's Champagne country, with a strong bill of French acts taking to the stage.

Orelsan, Jain and Etienne Daho are the big names, but also playing are Selah Sue, Petit Biscuit and Cigarettes after Sex, among others. There's a strong French flavour to the acts, but given that the festival's pretty much in the heart of the country that's maybe no bad thing.

Worth mentioning that tickets for the three days are a very reasonable 60 euros, meaning that even with the unfavourable pound/euro exchange rate it's still pretty fine value for money for a three day festival. Single day tickets are 35 euros.

With ticket prices for festivals in the UK now so high they should probably be offered with a mortgage, it's heartening to see events where they can still get big name acts and charge a reasonable price to see them.

Maybe it's because there are more French acts on the bill and fewer big ticket international acts pushing the prices up. But it's a good thing to see for sure, and the prices might temp a few adventurous UK festival fans to go along and see some of France's best acts in their natural summer environment.

More names are to be added to the event, which takes place on June 15, 16 and 17.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Booba : Friday

Something of a Star Wars theme to the new video for the track Friday by Booba.

The desert, the cinematography and the stylings all reference the world's best known science fiction film series, but perhaps the appearance of the black R2-D2 gives the game away.

The track comes from his most recent album Trône one of the biggest selling rap albums in recent years.

Booba wants it known he's playing at a galactic scale these days. It's been two years since his Nero Nemesis album was released, but his popularity and his ambition remain undiminished.

Trône, his ninth album, was released earlier this month, the title both a nod to the longevity of his rap career and to TV show Game of Thrones.

Ozzy, Foo Fighters, Manson and Guns n' Roses for Download Paris

Another day, another big French summer music festival releases details of who's on the bill for their
big event. This time it's the turn of Download Paris, the rock festival in the capital scheduled for four nights in June.

There are four big names at the top for each day Ozzy Osbourne for the first night, Marilyn Manson the second, Foo Fighters on the third night and Guns 'n' Roses on the Monday night.

Also playing are Ghost, the Offspiring and the Hives and alongside Volbeat, Opeth, Alestorm and dozens of others including Black Veil Brides, Slaves, Turbonegro and Wolf Alice.

There are still more names to be added, but what's striking is how many acts there are, and the range of rock genres on display.

Hellfest 2018, France's biggest rock festival which takes place later in June has some serious competition. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Avenged Sevenfold are among the acts confirmed for this event, with more to come. Looks like it will be quite a summer for the festival-minded French metal fan.

Download Paris takes place from June 15-June 18 and tickets are on sale now.

MC Solaar: Live on C à vous

Last week saw French rap pioneer MC Solaar appear live on French TV evening chat show C à vous.

Solaar recently released a new album, Géopoétique, ten years after he last released an album, 2007's Chapitre 7. If there were any concerns he'd lost his touch over the past ten years they were quickly put aside. 

Géopoétique gave him his first number one album in France since 1997 and has been one of the key releases of this year.

Solaar's always been head and shoulders ahead of the others an it's a remarkable appearance on C à vous, showing rap's widespread appeal in France isn't limited simply to fans of the genre.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Vielles Charrues 2018 lineup

The acts playing this year's Vielles Charrues festival in Brittany have been revealed, with Depeche
Mode, IAM, Gorillaz and Orelsan among those set to play.

Jain, Liam Gallagher, Massive Attack, Young Fathers and Romeo Elvis are among the others playing.

The festival, held in Carhaix, is one of France's biggest summer music events with over 200,000 people attending. Last year's festival included Justice, Manu Chao, Phoenix, Renaud and Arcade Fire and there's always a good mix of French and international acts on the bill.

It's certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1992.

The Vielles Charrues festival is being held over four days, July 19, 20, 21 and 22. Tickets go on sale on December 13.

Grégoire: Mes enfants

A touching video for the track Mes enfants by Grégoire, the second song to be taken from his recently released album entitled A écouter d'urgence.

It's the kind of classically sentimental chanson that the French do very well. It could have been written any time over the last 100 years although has something of the favour of Renaud's ballads about it.

Grégoire's 2008 debut album Toi + Moi was a massive seller and established him as an artist in France.

A écouter d'urgence is Grégoire's sixth album including the Thérèse, Vivre d'Amour concept album that saw him directing the musical settings of poems by St Thérèse of Lisieux.

His most recent album was 2015's Poésies de notre enfance which again saw him again take poetry and adapt it to music.

A écouter d'urgence was released in November, publicised by the track La Lettre.

The Limiñanas: Shadow People

A new video for the track Shadow People by French psych duo The Limiñanas.

The video comes ahead of the release of their new album in January, also to be entitled Shadow People.

The track originally emerged on their Istambul is sleepy EP in October, and features a contribution from actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner. While best known as an award-winning actress and wife of Roman Polanski, Seigner has also enjoyed a music career as part of Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle who released an album in 2007 and as a solo artist who released her debut solo album in 2014.

The Limiñanas are a duo of Marie and describe what they do as Garage/Pop/Psyche. They have been working together in the deep south of France since 2009 and released their self-titled debut in 2010 and have released three subsequent albums, the most recent being 2016's Malamore.

The Limiñanas have dates in February and March, including a show at the Trianon in Maris on March 29.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Carla Bruni: Live in London

A chance to see that very sophisticated chanteuse Carla Bruni in London this weekend, with the former first lady playing at the Union Chapel on Saturday night.

With her husband no longer in office for the past few years, she's been able to resume her musical career and has released two albums since then, Little French Songs in 2013 and French Touch earlier this year.

She released her Comme si de rien n'était in 2008 while her husband was president, the collection reaching number one in France. She was already an established artist be then, her debut Quelqu'un m'a dit from 2003 reaching number one in the French charts, her second No Promises from 2007 doing the same.

French Touch sees her covering songs originally recorded in the English language. While some like Moon River or Crazy are standards, there are some interesting choices including a version of Highway to Hell and Enjoy the Silence.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

#acoustic: Arcadian on @tv5monde

Another strong edition of TV5Monde's music show Acoustic, with a set by Arcadian.

The band, a trio of Jérôme, Florentin and Yoann have the kind of sound that fits the format of the show perfectly and they emerged from the fifth season of the TV show The Voice.

Their self-titled debut album was re-issued in November with extra tracks, the album already featuring the tracks Folie arcadienne and Ton combat.

Arcadian are in the middle of a tour of France that has dates until April, and they play at the Bataclan in Paris tonight.

Tracks performed include Ou je serai demain?, Les sables emouvants, Ton combat, Carmen - their cover of the Stromae song - Folie arcadienne and La fuite.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

La Féline: Live in London

Despite the magnitude of today's music news from France, there are many other things going on that deserve a mention on the blog.

One such event is a concert in London by La Féline, appearing at the Institut francais du Royaume-Uni, with former Stereolab singer Laetitia Sadier as support act.

Quite a bill for the latest of the IFRU's Music Rendezvous events, with the acts performing and intimate show in the historic building's Art Deco library.

Following their performances, the two acts will have a chat with their audience.

La Féline singer Agnès Gayraud appeared on BBC Radio's World at One news programme this afternoon to pay tribute to Johnny Hallyday, with a thoughtful interview that gave a good flavour of what he represented in France, and an idea of the ambiguities surrounding him. She performed an acoustic version of Hallyday's Quelque Chose de Tennessee.

It's available to listen to online on the BBC Player, about 40 minutes into the programme.

I'm a big fan of Gayraud's work and while the circumstances are difficult, it's hard to imagine a better ambassador for French music today.

Johnny Hallyday RIP

Terrible news this morning. Johnny Hallyday nous a quitté.

Somehow despite the fact he was gravely ill his death still comes as a shock. We'd seen Johnny face what seemed like the end before, and he always managed to rise above it. But it's the end of the story now.

It's easy for the Anglophone press to sum him up as the French Elvis, but there was so much more to him than that. He was - in France - the spirit of rock 'n' roll.  He was the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, the blue collar bluesman, the sequinned showman, the wise old guy on the TV talent show. A career that embraced rock 'n' roll, pop, country and blues and he mastered them all.

The fact that in recent years he faced so many serious health problems and kept going was an inspiration to others facing similar challenges.

He was one of the first celebrities to see his career followed by the media in intense detail, his triumphs and his blunders, the mistakes and the triumphs.

He may not have had a final act like Johnny Cash, but his output in his later years saw him dig deep into the defiant spirit of rock 'n' roll, his voice all the more powerful.

There was no one like Johnny, and there never will be anyone like him again.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Main Square Festival: More acts added

of the blank spaces on the bill of next summer's Main Square Festival have been filled in with the announcement of more acts to take to the stage of the three day event in July in Arras.

It's one of the biggest summer festivals in France, and this year's headliners are Queens of the Stone Age, Depeche Mode and Orelsan.

Today sees fourteen more more big names added, with BB Brunes, Girls in Hawaii and Gojira among the French acts. Nekfeu, IAM and Loic Nottet are also there.

International acts include Liam Gallagher, The Breeders and Wolf Alice.

2017 saw Radiohead, Major Lazer and Jain as well as Talisco, and La Femme play at the event in the town centre.

Main Square festival is held on July 6, 7 and 8 and tickets go on sale on December 5.

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Lying with you

A touching video for the track Lying with you by Charlotte Gainsbourg, a track from her recently
released Rest album.

The video was shot in the home she grew up in with her father Serge Gainsbourg and her mother Jane Birkin, the famous 5 bis rue de Verneuil which has been left by his family as it was while Serge was alive as a memorial.

Fascinating to see things like the L'homme à tête de chou statue, some of the keyboards he would have played and composed on, as well as the Gitanes and lighter still where Serge left them.

The song deals with Charlotte's memories of her father, her experience of his death and her subsequent feelings. It's a powerful piece and a haunting video that was directed by Charlotte herself.

Charlotte's album has been one of the key releases of 2017, and from a career that's already seen a couple of albums that are favourites of this blog, it's a real pleasure that an artist you've admired has released a piece of work that even surpasses what they've done before.

The young girl in the video is Charlotte's daughter but it feels like her father is somehow part of it too, his absence like a shadow.

Editorial: December 2017

November saw things get back to a more usual regular footing on this blog. Regular for a time
preceding 2017 that is.

Things have been strange this year and this blog has had to take a bit of a back seat while things come together, but hopefully we're in a position now where we're able to get back to normal.

November shows that this is certainly possible, with just about as many posts in a matter of weeks as I managed to get through in the course of the rest of 2017.

One thing that's sure is that there's been some impressive work released over the past few week and months. From Charlotte Gainsbourg to Feu! Chatterton some acts I've been writing about here have put out new work that ranks with their best. In coming weeks and moths I'll certainly be doing my best to represent as many of these as I can and pass on some of my enthusiasm for the French music scene.

Elsewhere there are a good many new acts that I've been impressed by and intend to write about. With both the Trans Musicales de Rennes festival and the Bars en Trans event over the same weekend in Rennes in a matter of days, I intend to look at some of the acts on the bill at these two events, both impressive and well-curated showcase events for some of the finest emerging talent from France and further afield.

December can be a strange month for releases, with the last weeks of the Christmas release rush, with special editions and repackages for the gift market, but there are some interesting things scheduled. Similarly, some big acts are firming up their plans for 2018 and others are touring at the moment, and more details are emerging about this summer's festivals in France. I'll be across all of this, with

As always, you can contact us at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

I'm always pleased to hear from record companies, PR companies and promoters, so do drop me an email. I'm always keen to hear new things, and relay information about acts I already know and love.

The blog is also on Twitter as @viveleroq, although that's pretty much just an autofeed when we update with a new article. You can usually find me on my personal Twitter account quicker, @karnag

If you're around Facebook, remember to like the French Music Podcast UK page, where you can get regular updates with both fresh and vintage French music.

Thanks as always to the good folks at Oui Love Music From France .

Merci et à bientôt,

John K