St John's Smith Square, London
added: 4 Feb 2013
// gig date: 2 Feb 2013
reviewer: David Spencer
After a short delay, which appeared quite long to the fans, Voulzy finally arrived on stage for this concert, organised by French Radio London. Well sort of arrived. We heard him whispering what seemed to be a poem, saying that his heart in 2010 was dreaming of going back to 1400. It felt like a dream. Then, very slowly, he revealed himself to us. Dressed in a long red coat, sending a medieval vibe, but wearing trainers, proving that he is definitely a modern man, he started playing the guitar. There was what you can describe as a religious silence among the audience.
He then performed a few songs from his latest album Lys & Love, released in 2011. This album, which is both French and British, as the songs were recorded in a Vincennes dungeon and mastered at London’s Abbey Road studios, definitely sends a medieval and Celtic feeling but remains modern thanks to a rock touch.
En Regardant Vers Le Pays De France was very moving for the audience as most were, indeed, looking towards the country of France. As expats, this song brought them together. After a few songs, he took off his jacket and started singing some of his great hits: Le rêve du pêcheur or Une Héroïne (with a British touch in the chorus: “It’s for you that I sing God save the Queen”).
Then, all went serious when Voulzy told us about the next song, Jesus. Written with his friend/companion in arm/brother Alain Souchon, it was recorded to fight misery and poverty. After a Simon and Garfunkel interlude, with Scarborough Fair, the French singer invited a Choir (directed by Jenny French) to join him on stage. The addition of the Choir, Voulzy’s voice, the atmosphere, the music, the lighting and the words sent a powerful shiver around the audience.
There was something unique and special about all those people coming together to peacefully sing the well-known choruses of his hits. It felt like the end of the concert when Voulzy and his band held up various flags, the singer holding a French flag and a Union Jack. They disappeared but only for a short time, before he returned to explain that it was a very moving concert for him. It was only his second concert in London and performing in this city was his wildest dream since he was a little boy.
He said that, just that afternoon, he was in Covent Garden and met a fan that asked him if he was going to sing her favourite song from his. Laurent kindly accepted to make an exception and added the song to his track list. Later, he crossed the path of another fan on his way to Leicester Square and accepted to add another song to his list.
This little story was the prelude to a very private moment where Voulzy started singing famous songs of his and others, just him and his guitar; Fille d’Avril, Aline, Yesterday, Coeur Grenadine and Le Soleil Donne all followed. He kept one of his biggest hits until the close: Rockollection, saw the audience go mad, with people clapping and dancing. All of the sudden, we were in a Rolling Stones concert, with electric guitars and heavy bass. Quite a transformation.
The concert was a real treat as Voulzy is very communicative with his audience. He’s also a great performer, living his music and meaning his every word. As his music was so influenced by British bands and British rock, it would be a shame if this was Voulzy’s last London concert. I am sure it won’t be.
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