Stephen Chapman

The second incarnation of my blog

Chansons françaises à Londres

Last night Pete and I were in London to see French singer songwriter Julien Clerc play at the Shepherds Bush Empire.  I’ve known of his music since I was 17 and this is the 6th time I’ve seen him live.

It was an unusual show as it was just him with 2 other musicians. There were 2 grand piano’s on the stage – one mainly played by Julien and one by a lady whose name I did not catch. The third person was a young guy who played percussion, drums, keyboard, piano, violin, flute, xylophone and washboard. What a show off!

Julien obviously likes to try new approaches to his music. Each time he tours, he changes the band, arrangements and tracks played.  The previous tour was with an orchestra throughout last year playing at the biggest venues.  The one before that was a full band, This time around, the setup is small and he’s playing some unusual places including Tel Aviv and London (only for the second time).

I like the fact that he had chosen to play songs that he had either not played for years or had never played live.  It made for an interesting evening.

I wish more artists took a risk in this way. He is willing to dig out old songs and give them a try and will take a risk of performing with a paired down group to let the songs shine through.

So it was me and Pete and a thousand French people, all of whom I assume work in London. The venue at Shepherds Bush is a bit of a dump and their overbearing security always gets to me. They forget that we are the paying customers and searching us, not allowing us to bring in a small bottle of water and stopping people (mainly women) from getting near to the stage was just stupid. Though I did laugh when I saw a sign stating that crowd surfing was not allowed!

4 comments on “Chansons françaises à Londres

  1. Raybeard
    May 10, 2013

    I’ve heard of this chap but don’t know much about his music. I suppose my knowledge of French ‘balladeers’ tends to be more of one generation earlier (Jean Ferrat, Maxime le Forestier, among others). But this Clerc sounds worth investigating.

    Incidentally, your title of this post made me cringe at a certain memory. At the final exam to attain a Diploma in French we had to write a spontaneous essay on the difference between ‘Chansons Francaises’ (apologies for the absence of ‘cedilla’) and ‘Chansons Francophonies’. With just 15 minutes to go at the end of a two-hour session I realised (quelle horreur!) that I’d got them the wrong way round. Too late to correct it (though I ought to have written a side-note to the effect that I’d only just noticed my mistake) I nervously awaited the exam result a couple of months later – which turned out to be a ‘3’, the lowest pass grade available. So, I did achieve the Diploma – but only just. (Sacre Bleu! Zut! et Merde!)

  2. sfchapman
    May 10, 2013

    I’ve mentioned Julien on my old blog before – so that’s where you may know him from. Think Elton John or similar – he’s a songwriter and makes some great songs, along with some overly twee ones.

  3. Raybeard
    May 10, 2013

    Shall follow it up – definitely!
    Thanks.

  4. Pingback: This week I have been… | Stephen Chapman

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2013 by in music and tagged , , , .

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