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LIVE REPORT: Sébastien Tellier
Jeremy Allen , October 24th, 2013 07:29

Jeremy Allen attends a rare appearance from the singer-songwriter at the Festival d’Ile de France

If there’s anything Parisians love more than the cinema it’s a good fête, and Sebastien Tellier somehow manages to combine the two tonight, premiering Confection - an album written like the soundtrack to a movie - live at the Festival d’Ile de France. This outing at La Cigale - a delightfully dilapidated old venue amongst the bright lights of Pigalle - is a rare outing for a man who a year and a half ago was threatening to form his own commune and run away to the green hills of Africa.

The event, with a half orchestra and the mighty Tony Allen on drums, is even being streamed live on the internet, and demand across the world sees it creak under the weight of traffic before finally taking the broadcast down ahead of the concert’s conclusion. If there’s an appetite for Tellier outside of France, then nothing has quite prepared us for the demand for him inside this building. The lovable, slightly shambling rogue appears on stage and the crowd react like it’s Elvis.

Then comes Confection, played sequentially, a movie nobody has actually seen yet - or will ever see - because it’s not actually a movie. Cinema is close to Tellier’s heart and he’s got form, having made a brilliant soundtrack to the 2007 motion picture Steak. Here he creates a cinematic universe with characters like Coco who appears in the titles of instrumental tracks throughout despite there being no lyrical detail, with only ‘L’amour naissant’ featuring any vocals from the big man. The song itself is a characteristically ambient and elegiac incantation, a hymn to fledgling love, and it can be no coincidence that it echoes both ‘La Ritournelle’ and the riff to Gainsbourg’s ‘Initials B.B.’ - one of the old sop’s moping songs about Brigitte Bardot.

Having scored most of the music for orchestra, it means there’s often not much for Tellier to do on stage. He plays bass on ‘Adieu’ and ‘Coco’ and sits at a piano for ‘L’amour naissant’, though mid-show he wanders off the stage completely leaving the orchestra to it, and then he returns for the next number with a massive bifta which he proceeds to smoke sat at the end of a piano stool. And as he tugs away on the doobie flagrantly flouting the smoking ban, the familiar voice of Ray Wilkins enters your head with the words: “He’s a Frenchman, anything can happen.”

Come the encore and Tellier dusts off some old classics - ‘Cochon Ville’, which actually suffers a little from a lack of volume, and ‘La Ritournelle’ - probably the moment most were waiting for if they were honest. The track builds and builds as we’ve become accustomed to, though its when the vocal appears that everything drops out and Tellier slows down and serenades us plaintively with just him and a piano; the moment will serve long in the memory as tonight’s money shot. It’s good to have him back so soon following those wild threats of desertion. We would have maybe liked a little more of him, though this will do for now.

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