Live in Paris: M83 at L’Olympia
So last night we got back from five wonderful days in the city of lights, love and chic, Paris. We had a fantastic time, soaking up French and international culture, indulged in a healthy dose of culture courtesy of the gems offered by the Paris Museum Pass (sometimes it pays to take advantage of what’s on offer for your tourist needs!), and gave our feet an intense cobble-street workout as we criss-crossed from the 18th to the 1st and from the right to the left banks and back again. But all these things were a bonus; what really took us to Paris (well, at least, what was the original impetus for this trip!) was a great band that we both really like: M83.
We got our tickets (via snail mail! Real tickets!) months ago for this concert, so the excitement had built for a while. I was partly excited about the venue itself; L’Olympia (or Olympia Hall) stands proudly on Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th; it’s a real old school music hall and has been there since 1888 (founded by Joseph Oller, who also founded Le Moulin Rouge), and seen some incredible performances and gone through many historical transitions (you can read more about it here if you are keen). As far as I am concerned, concerts are often better in music hall locations like this, not only for acoustics, but also for the added ambience! And I am happy to report that I was not disappointed. Not even the long queue outside (the French have this queuing thing down!), or the rain, could dent my excitement.
M83 is actually one French guy, Anthony Gonzalez, who adds various talented musicians to pitch in with recording and live shows to create amazing music. This show was part of the Hurry Up I’m Dreaming tour, off the back of M83’s recent double album of the same name. The band takes its name from a spiral galaxy, and soon after it kicked into the first song, I felt like I was star gazing:
Having read more about the band in the lead up to the concert, I knew that their musical stylings owed more to shoegazing, than to stargazing, despite the name and the starry lighting that made such a great backdrop on stage. That suited us just fine; the set list predominantly focussed on showcasing tracks from the latest album, with a few songs from previous albums (and a Daft Punk cover!) thrown in for good measure. Oh and a sure sign of a great gig is when the band has the floor rocking, literally, rocking (the way the floorboards were stacked on a gradient meant they moved as the crowd did) at the very first song.
And the lights, oh the lights! We agreed between us, definitely one of the most incredible light shows either of us have seen at a concert (and we thought we had seen the best!). From the above (the round lights conjured up stained glass windows, or so we thought, the blue windows of a similar shape we had seen earlier in the day in Notre Dame on our minds), the lights and music just got better and better. Aural and visual experience par excellence? You better believe it.
The colours, as you can see, were fantastic, as was the energy of the band – and the crowd. Happily, we found out fast that French kids have no disinclination to actually show that they are enjoying themselves, not like some of those Wellington indie kids we are so used to at the San Francisco Bath House (nodding your head on every second beat is NOT dancing, people!). We got our dancing groove on and waved our arms around in the air as M83 launched into their biggest hit, Midnight City (it was always going to be off the hook! For that night, Paris was their church), shimmied and sung our way through follow-up hit Reunion and we appreciated the gesture as those in the front rows lit cigarettes and lighters and waved them in the air as we crowd-sung Wait.
Gonzalez endeared himself to the Parisian crowd, stopping early to pay them, the venue and their beautiful city plenty of compliments (our French might not be great, but it’s that good!), and Morgan Kibby’s backless dress really was something to behold; she totally rocked it.
As the band took their final bows following a three-song-strong encore (Don’t save us from the flames; Skin of the night; Couleurs) the crowd were well and truly energised and enamoured with M83 and PJD and I were of one mind: M83 in Paris was truly tres, tres magnifique.
Photos taken by CIA, Paris, 12 June 2012.