Above: La Grande Sophie at FrancoFolies (Frédérique Ménard-Aubin)
This extraordinary event deserves a world-wide recognition, so this might go a little way towards that:
From 12 June to 19 June, it covered all the musical bases of the Francophone world, with the exception of Gallo-indie – which mostly favours English, so is excluded.
Beyond the obvious interest in seeing masses of stuff (including Arnaud Fleurent-Didier for the first time), the real mind blower was being exposed out of the blue to the exceptional La Grande Sophie. Wonderful.
Space, as usual, meant some things weren't mentioned, so here’s a random few:
LES CHIENS: Never seen anything like this before. Big cult band in the Québécoise world from early 21st century onwards. I thought the jumping off point was Verve, but that was a glancing impression. Everything was restrained, bringing forth a snail’s pace, with a few drifting echoplexed instrumentals: like Sigur Rós playing The Beatles’ Flying. Psychedelic, but rock. Absolutely surprising.
JP NATAF: His band Les Innocents were a big French deal and, now solo, he’s making a comeback after a while. But the succession of John Lennon-style songs didn’t make the best case.
ROSE: I’m a big fan of her first album and last year's Les Souvenirs Sous Ma Frange, and had never seen her live. What works well – introspectively – on album doesn't fully translate to a live setting as the emphasis on lyrics is lost.
ALEXIS HK: The Boulevardier tradition is great, but a wee bit too much chat and clowning is a distraction.
PORCELAINE: A Québécoise lady touted as an electro-piano-chanteuse. Engaging and her junior Emilie Simon songs are fun, but the pedestrian session musician-type band needs sacking. Reigning back the make-show tendencies would emphasise the songs.