About a week after moving to France, we heard the news that Indochine (a legendary French band, and my wife’s favourite band of all time) were touring their latest album (13), and they had a date in March in Montpellier. We used some of our remaining savings from the move to purchase tickets to the show.
Indochine can best be described as an emo band. Only they didn’t start off emo. In the 80s they were rather poppy. Then they became emo in the early 2000s, about ten years after it was cool to be emo. France always seems to be behind on their trends, I mean popper tracksuit bottoms only seem to have made it here.
I was introduced to Indochine about seven years ago, and being a fan of emo music (MCR, Panic at the Disco, early FOB, Placebo) I could immediately “dig” the music. The one thing I found was that their songs immediately transcended language barriers. Could I understand them? No. But I could follow the melodies, and the music spoke to me. I still can’t follow their songs lyric for lyric (but I can damn sure hum along to them all).
If you followed our Snowmageddon blog, you will have learned that the gig was at risk as Montpellier fell victim to the great polar vortex / Beast from the East. Instead, the gig was postponed by a day, with lead singer of Indochine announcing it on his twitter and instagram (some things have hit France early…ish).
We had standing tickets, and my wife wanted to get to the arena early so we stood a chance of being near the front. We arrived two hours before doors and found a bunch of people had the same idea as we did. We sat down on the floor, wasting time by ignoring everybody else around us. I suggested playing some Indochine on my phone to see if we could get a sing along going, but my wife would have rather stabbed herself in the eyes with a rusty fork than draw attention to us. I just wanted to foster a bit of camaraderie. I have been to many gigs in the UK where you interact with people while waiting – after all, these people have at least one thing in common with you. But apparently that is not the done thing in France.
When the doors opened at six, we watched as the lucky ones ahead of us rushed in and took the best spaces. It took about twenty minutes for us to get past security. And then I have never seen my wife move so fast as to get into the arena to try and get us prime space in the arena. I rushed in after her to find…it was really easy to get close to the stage. As is the modern gig stage now, there was a central platform that came out into the crowd. We were about three rows of people back. The gallery below shows how close we were.
As we waited for the support act, Requin Chagrin (literally translates as Shark Grief) people around us began to sit down on the arena floor. One person (not making this up) got a book out. Who brings a book to a gig? Really France, WTF?
I enjoyed the support act. They had a similar sound to Indochine, but with a female lead.
Then came the main event. Indochine took to the stage at 8.45, with a huge video wall hanging horizontally above the crowd leading us deeper into space until finally a rocket exploded into life, and Nicolas belted out the opening lines from Black Sky, a song from their new album. Nicola Sirkis has such a strange charisma about him. You cannot help but be impressed and drawn into the show as he tries (and fails) to dance while singing his bloody heart out.
About five songs in we had confetti cannons shooting into the crowd during the song Station 13, where Nicola sings about fallen heroes. The lyrics were written and ask who he should look up to now his heroes are dead, on the back of the death of David Bowie. The video wall showed David’s face during the lyrics “Je sens que tout va changer , J’ai vu le ciel si bas , J’ai traversé les vies, Tous mes héros sont morts”
During the song Gloria, Nicolas took a breather and laid down in front of us, singing with the video of Asia Argenta (it’s a duet). I love the song Gloria. It’s a grower (also a new one).
Some of their older, more well known songs came towards the end of the set. They finished the official set with a medley including Paradize, Kill Nico and Les Tzars.
The first encore (yes first) included Trois nuits par semaine and the crowd came unglued. Like seriously enjoying themselves. It was probably the most bouncing crowd for a single song I have ever been in.
They went off again and came back for a second encore, at which point they did their most well known song, l’aventurier. It is a song from their 1982 debut album, and honestly still stands up as a song today. I could listen to it over and over, and this live performance probably pushed it to the top of my favourite Indochine songs list. They released more confetti and then released giant balloons into the crowd to end.
They went off stage at 11.15. Giving us a good 2 and a half hours of solid entertainment.
We both got a tour t-shirt (reasonable at 25 euro each) and decided to head around to the back of the arena. Apparently, in France you can wait for the band to head out to their tour bus and get autographs. Sadly, we were informed that they had an aftershow commitment and that they would be out at about 2am. We couldn’t wait in the cold for 2 hours, so disappointingly we had to head home. Luckily enough, we live within walking distance of the arena and within 40 minutes, we were home.
As a first experience of a gig in France, it was a great start. We’re looking forward to seeing more.