Day 2 – Wednesday July 23
Cats On Trees, Le Détour, 5pm-6pm
This French Duo hypnotizes Le Détour at Paléo! The drums and a piano topped with the beautiful pure voice of Nina Goern are enough for them to hold the crowd. They come on stage and she starts delicately playing the piano and Yohan Hennequin the drums, increasingly building up the sound, with the lights in the back creating a great atmosphere. They play “Siren Calls” a great and catchy tune blending the drums and the piano in a beautiful run through a forest of sounds. They take us through songs present in their album as well as through new songs, among which one in French, “Bateau”, a delicate tune which seems to take you sailing far into the sea. The song “Tikiboy” impresses for its fast beginning with the piano keys and the lyrics which unfold following the rhythm. They play an outstanding cover of “Mad World”, giving it a more feminine touch with the singer’s voice as well as charisma added with the drums. The audience knows the song and sings along swinging to the delicate notes. The singer announces that now the concert is going to really need the crowd’s participation: “Because the next song “Ouh Ouh”, you don’t know it and I’m gonna teach you how to sing it”. So, step by step, she starts teaching the lyrics to the audience. In the end the public manages to sing the refrain alone in between the rest of the lyrics sung by Nina Goern and it sounds beautiful. Once they leave the stage the screams and clapping of the audience are so loud that they decide to come back and play “Siren Calls” once again since they had not planned to do so. Great encore and a concert to remember!
Seasick Steve, Grande Scène, 7pm-8pm
If you don’t know Seasick Steve, you have to check him out. This pretty old American man (he is 75, no kidding!) comes on stage looking like a farmer, a football cap on his head, long dungarees and a chequed shirt. One of the songs he plays is called “Down To The Farm” so we’re not pretty far from there. As Seasick Steve says “There is just me and this idiot” (referring to the white-haired drummer). There are no screens in the back of the stage and no lights for the show but there is no need for them, Seasick Steve is able to entertain the audience with his incredible rudimental instruments! He takes the audience and plunges it into his Southern country-blues with the addictive rhythm of his guitars and his deep voice. He makes the audience shake and scream with his tunes and truthful lyrics. Each time he picks up one of his rudimental and handmade guitars he tells the audience what they are made of. One of them is formed by two hubcaps, one of which was a present from Jack White, a barbecue spatula and an old beer can. But Seasick Steve tells us that his favourite guitar is the one made out of a washing board his son used to play with. During the concert, while playing the serenade “Walkin Man” he invites a young girl on stage and makes her sit on a chair beside him, just to make his serenade more real, touching!
Polar, Les Arches, 8pm-9pm
Polar, is a Swiss artist with Irish origins whose real name is Eric Linder. On stage at Paléo he is accompanied by his band playing piano, guitar, bass and drums. Polar sings in English as well as in French. The English songs have that something more in them which make them more memorable and better sounding. The sound ranges between rock and folk and is peppered with accurate instrumental bits. Polar plays, among others, the song “Pray For Me” which, as he states, is dedicated to his Irish grandpa who wrote a note saying “Pray For Me” on it and which was hidden in the wall and found fifty-one years later. I found this was a touching anecdote for a certainly beautiful song. The guitar riffs and an alone of mystery around Polar’s voice are, among other things, what make him a great artist.
Jack Johnson, Grande Scène, 9pm-10:30pm
There’s a reason why Jack Johnson was a professional surfer, his music has the same power to take you away as waves do. That unmistakable surf vibe makes you feel as if you were sitting on a beach far away from the bursting everyday life. It can remind you of Ben Howard, another great musician with a passion for surf. Jack Johnson is accompanied by his band, his soft voice and the picking of his guitar make you feel as if you’re cuddled by the waves, it is beautiful and relaxing. He plays a short cover of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” by The Ramones. For one song he is joined on stage by the very much acclaimed Seasick Steve who sits on a stool and plays the guitar. There’s also a bit of folk in Jack Johnson’s live performance, one of his bandmates plays the accordion which fits greatly and which gives a touch of the South as do some of their other sounds!
The surf vibe brings a bit of calm before the storm comes with Stromae who is up next on the Grande Scène.
Stromae, Grande Scène, 11:30pm-1am
Stromae hasn’t changed, well at least not in the way he holds the crowd and in being a total showman and actor! Useless to mention that he is the biggest star of the Wednesday and (probably) of the entire Paléo. The Wednesday is in fact the day which sold most tickets and most quickly. Stromae comes on stage wearing knee-socks and a grey outfit, and the unavoidable bow tie. He starts off with the song “Ta Fête” and immediately the crowd starts jumping up and down, singing along. In the refrain he adds “Paléo Festival fera aussi la fête”, the crowd screaming happily as they hear the name of their beloved festival, which looks like a huge dance floor. While performing “Formidable” he pretends he is drunk, he does it so well that you may think it is really so! Throughout the show he jokes a bit with the audience imitating the Swiss French accent and so on. He says “Alors Paléo vous êtes prêts pour danser?” to introduce the single that launched him in 2010 “Alors on danse”, needless to say that everybody got dancing! If you are not too close to the stage you can watch Stromae’s interesting facial expressions on the big screens! He plays the catchy and provocative song “Tous les mêmes” in the middle of the show, as to render the audience even more excited about his show. For the Encore, Stromae is carried on stage by his musicians, a still face and a still body he is dressed with the pale yellow and green patterned clothes that he wears in the video of the song “Papaoutai”, the screens in the back of the stage have the same pattern. Stromae his raised on his feet, the same still smile on his face and then he starts singing “Papaoutai” and dancing at the same time. He leaves the stage promising to be back soon to Paléo and leaving an audience still in awe for the encompassing artist they just saw live. Thumbs up, he deserves to be successful, he’s got it all, the talent, the music and the connection to the audience.