What’s the French word for ‘Encore’? (Yann Tiersen at the O2 Oxford)

by Stephen Tall on November 3, 2010

Yann Tiersen (O2 Oxford, 3 November, 2010)

Like many in the audience at Oxford’s O2, my knowledge of Yann Tiersen before last night didn’t extend beyond his contribution to the Amelie soundtrack. So my expectations were, I guess, of swoopingly, achingly melodic arrangements full of piano and romance, accordion and longing.

Well not so much. This was an amped-up, punked-up, thrashed-up gig… two drummers, two (sometimes three) bass guitars, and an assortment of musical instruments which will have to remain nameless (as I don’t know their names: what is the one that’s a cross between a stylophone and a recorder?).

And, most importantly, a violin. Y’see, you just can’t go wrong adding a violin to a gig: instant class. In fact, strings (and brass) should be compulsory for all popular music.

My proof: The Divine Comedy, who (hurray!) play the O2 in a couple of weeks, and who do actually have a Tiersen connection… Amelie‘s ‘Les Jours tristes‘ was co-written by Yann and the DivCom’s Neil Hannon. (Wikipedia tells me the track later received English lyrics, and appeared as a B-side to The Divine Comedy’s ‘Perfect Lovesong’ single from Regeneration, and also on Tiersen’s ‘L’Absente‘. Update: and here it is.)

And I’m not alone in my lust for sax and violins… Tiersen’s violin solo stole the show, got the crowd cheering, and even prompted an irritated shushing of chatterers at the bar which wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place at the Royal Opera House. It was enough to make me forget the occasionally painful lapse into concept-album Jean Michel Jarre bollocks.

No idea who Yann Tiersen is, or or what he sounds like? Then sit back, watch and enjoy Sur le fil:


(Also available on YouTube here.)