Yann TIersen’s concert in Portland was fantastic, as I knew it would be, but I have to admit that there were a few surprises. The first and most obvious was that he didn’t even bring an accordion. The second was that it was an all-electric show, with the exception of the violin and melodica. And the ukelele, which KeyboardGirl and BassPlayer each played once or twice. There was a Moog synthesizer too, which was used by Yann and KeyboardGirl to interesting effect. It was awesome to see Yann and the band in this electrified way, but I would imagine that fans who are only familiar with the Amelie soundtrack and his earlier work may have been disappointed with this show.
The crowd seemed to be most appreciative when something outside the realm of NormalRockBandLineup happened, such as when Yann played his violin. He launched into Sur Le Fil, a solo violin piece, to thunderous cheers and applause. I think after the long jams, we were all excited to hear something recognizable, and something we associate with the best of Yann’s musical abilities. As a multi-instrumentalist myself, however, I certainly know all too well about the hassle of carrying around a truckload of weird, fragile, unruly (not to mention large) instruments in a car and a plane and a van and a trailer. I can only imagine what it’s like to do that for months on end. But accordions and mandolins are relatively small. Jeez, Yann, you could have at least brought one of those, or maybe you can find a backup guitarist who also plays something else besides guitar? I hereby volunteer my services to you.
I certainly wasn’t bored or disappointed with the show in any way, but I would have loved to hear at least a little bit of accordion, or piano, or something. What I love most about Yann is that he’s a composer and not ‘just’ a rock band. Or maybe it’s that he can be a rock band if he wants, but he’s so much more than that. This was a very good rock band, but it was still a rock band. I would have gladly shelled out much more money to see him at PCPA with a more eclectic instrumental lineup.
The things that did disappoint me about the show had nothing to do with Yann or his band. First of all, there were signs everywhere at the venue saying “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” and everyone was told at the door, “No cameras, and no camera phones. ” This policy was strictly enforced, too, because I saw the staff guys wearing fanny packs that were stuffed with contraband cameras, and I heard him say to someone, “You can’t use your camera. It’ll be confiscated.” Well, crap, I thought, and dutifully left my camera in the pocket of my hoodie for the entire show. Therefore, I have no photographic proof that I was there, which is a shame too, because I was standing in a really good spot. Le sigh.
I had two friends come to the show, one of whom I had given my extra ticket to, but both arrived later and were unable to find me, so that was disappointing. The good thing, I guess, is that I was able to pay more attention to the performances, but it would have definitely been nicer to have company.
The tour T-shirts wouldn’t have looked good on me, and I already own all the CD’s, so I came home empty-handed and a bit heavy-hearted to have missed out on my friends, but I was supremely glad to have seen the perfomance of a true musical genius who I never imagined I’d have the chance to hear in person, especially not without a great deal of traveling. The Wonder Ballroom is about ten minutes’ drive from my place. And I’ve had the opportunity to play there, too, so I know what the backstage area and everything is like. I imagined Yann sitting on a sofa in one of the green rooms in the basement, warming up on his violin.
Here’s a picture from the previous night’s show in Seattle, which another of my friends took with her camera phone. Apparently they didn’t have the same anti-photography regime in place, or if they did, she was able to circumvent it long enough to snap this one shot. Anyway, here it is.
Incidentally, Yann’s the one with the longish hair, just to the right of center.
It was a really great show, overall, and I’d recommend that you take any chance you can get to see Yann.