Soirées Cerise, Ixelles, 4th October 2009
No, I’m not going to review myself. Make your own mind up. We bootlegged the gig and it’s available on Last.fm here:
If you’re in a hurry, listen to Pewter Eyes, All of my Mother’s Favourite Nightmares and The Box.
As usual, Fred is a great host, and it's a great venue. Starting to get a wee bit on the small side though - this was a capacity crowd, with almost as many people here to see us as to see the headliners.
This is a Jean-Luc De Meyer (Front 242) side project. This time backed with synth & drum team Jean-Marc Melot & Gaston Hollands. Yes, that same Jean-Marc who is Robert Smith (see here) with Cure tribute band A Final Sound (with GH), Csygnus (also with GH), and a couple of other projects.
The idea seems to be the interpretation of some of the greats of French poetry to an electronic backing. I’m not up on that part of French Literature, so if you want to find out more about the detail of the texts and the life & works of Charles Baudelaire, you’ll have to google it yourselves.
Minimalist kit on stage – small electronic drum kit on one side, a couple of synths and a laptop on the other. Jean-Luc in a white suit, the other 2 in black with dark shades. And 8 slide projectors.
We get off to a false start, as one of the cables seems to have decided to die between the sound check and the start of the gig. 5 minutes later, we’re off again. A reminder that nobody is immune to the gremelins of live music.
It’s not really my thing, and I didn’t get into it. I think it’s the strict meter of the poetry that doesn’t allow the same level of freedom and interpretation that you get from “proper” lyrics. I personally think that with poetry, to do it properly, it’s a lot closer to acting, where the interpretation depends on the speed, volume and intonation of the words. And I’d do that without any musical distractions at all. Also, the way that Jean-Luc uses his voice is closer to rap than conventional singing. I like a bit more melody.
Having said that, the beats are strong, the sound is excellent, the band are tight as tight can be. I have to admit, despite not buying into the concept myself, that the delivery is immaculate, and it’s done probably about as well as possible.
The one thing I did think was excellent was the spectacular light show. There are 2 people operating the banks of slide projectors on each side of the stage. Not photos, but handmade gel slides that provide colour and texture to the lighting (there is no other lighting). Making Jean-Luc turn all sorts of colours, changing patterns, textures (remember Jean-Luc is dressed all in white). The light show is phenomenally effective, and as much part of the performance as the music is. Its effectiveness is helped by the theatre being all black with no decor up – an almost perfect setting.
Overall, I wouldn’t go again – once is enough for me. But I am in a small minority – most of the audience were quite convinced, and based on the finishing and attention to detail I’ve seen tonight (and what I’ve heard on MySpace) I’d definitely go to see other things they’re involved in. Like Parade Ground, Csygnus, Crash 32, and there are others – both Jean-Marc and Jean-Luc are serial collaborators. One previous one that’s worth a mention because it’s both good and different from what Jean-Luc is known for is C-Tec, featuring my old school-mate Ged Denton!
One thing I am particularly fond of from Modern Cubism is this video (helps if you understand the French), from the album “Les plaints d’un Icare” on Brussels label Sleepwalking Records. I laughed my nuts off!
Modern Cubism - Picture: Bernard Feron / Action Lightning : Pierre Mansire
Perverted by Language - Picture: Marc Durant