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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Headliner:Yann Tiersen
Support: Plus Support
Venue: The Arches, Glasgow, 24th April 2007


Arriving at the bright shiny front of The Arches, where the ticket desk, bar and restaurant are, desk staff were showing early signs of frustration. Punters being redirected round to the other side, to the dark side of The Arches, passed the hostel for the homeless, and into the dank street where the clubbers line up on the weekend. The last time I walked passed this alley, two weeks ago; there was a van full of police and two dog patrol vehicles. Fortunately they were not present this time as we got our little group together and stood in line.

Doors were listed as opening at 7.30, it wasn't long after that when they did, and we were filtered across the various bar areas, across 4 arches, till we reached the point where the gig would be held. The same place where I had seen Tinariwen weeks ago, but had come in at the other side. We milled around, until support appeared sometime after 8 o'clock. A three piece band, a guy with a guitar sitting down, a dark haired girl singing and playing bells, and a blonde haired girl playing violin and toys. The band, which went unnamed, played a kind of winsome Indy pop, mixing French and English vocals. Their performance had the air of the unrehearsed, taking turns to look at each other to check what song any of them thought they were playing. At times the singer seemed to remember she was holding bells and would ring them, leaving us unclear as to whether that was part of the plan. The violinist would wander round the stage, sometimes away from microphones that she was playing instruments into, as though to check they were going to do what she expected them to. Every song they played seemed to have the duration of about 2 minutes each and they only seemed to play about 5 songs. So they were done in no time, leaving with such suddenness that the audience weren't even entirely aware that they were done until they climbed off the stage, a token cheer going up a little too late.

Nine came and went. Roadies pottered about the stage, reached a state of happiness and left. The crowd milled around. Time passed. The crowd got restless. People started shouting things; a slow clap went up to indicate discontent. A guy appeared on stage, tuning guitar, girl appeared twiddling keyboard, a cheer went up. They played with the lights, people muttered discontent. The people on stage left, more time passed. Yann Tiersen and his band finally took to the stage, Yann ignoring the air of growing hostility takes time to introduce his band - the applause is polite.

Tiersen will be most well known for his work on the Amelie soundtrack, perhaps even his soundtrack to Goodbye Lenin, which works as a nice companion piece. Other people seemed to recognise the moments of soft rock ballad, singing along. My sister and some friends were here, one of those friends had seen Tiersen in France, playing with a full orchestra and he was apparently wonderful. That same guy speaking to a French girl was warned, Yann is going to play a heavy set, a lot of people aren't going to like it. I hadn't heard that warning till the end of the night. It is safe to say, Yann Tiersen rocked! What a wanker!

It seemed clear from the momentary recognition for pieces that Tiersen was playing through his back catalogue. Singing in French and English depending on the piece, he sang over emotional and dated pieces that held little interest in their own right. As the night went on I ached to leave, at one point I had even turned round to say that I was going when his accordion came out and he played a piece from Amelie. But when he did a smug wave and left the stage in preparation for the encore I did leave.

Over all Tiersen played two tracks I knew, and while those had momentary flashes of what I was after, of why I was there, they didn't last. For the most part every track devolved into a rock marathon, thundering drums and lashing guitars. Every wanky like guitar trick that could make the music sound even wankier was used. Tiersen was clearly desperate to be a prog-rock-post-rock rival to Godspeed You Black Emperor, only wanky. The music was shrill, widdly, twiddly and wanky. The first piece from Amelie, for example, started with plinking xylophone, then became a fair rock version, then became a 20 minute monstrosity. Several times through the set Tiersen replaced his guitar for a violin, on which he would play a limited range of notes and play them as damn fast as he damn well damn could.

I have seen all kinds of bands, I listen to all kinds of music. I have seen pretty much everything Tiersen had to offer, and I have seen it done so much better. I hated this gig. Tonight I am going to see Einst├╝rzende Neubauten, hopefully they will not disappoint.

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