The man in the front row with the red heart-shaped balloon is sure of it: ‘Ich Liebe Dich’ it says. Behind him are some 7000 people who are sure of it too. If you love beautiful songs, beautifully sung then you’d love her too. Zaz was back in Bonn on Sunday and even the Sun had his hat on at Kunst!Rasen for the Show.
Concert visitors were treated to two excellent support Acts before Zaz took the stage shortly after 8pm:
If you Wiki Charles Pasi you’ll find there isn’t even an English entry for the young French Bluesharp player yet. On this evenings evidence that should change very soon. It should have changed already, Pasi’s 2008 release ‘Mainly Blue’ won the ‘Memphis Blues Challenge’ so he should have been on the English speaking Blues fans radar a while now.
Pasi maybe falls into the gap that the likes of Oli Brown linger over – he’s young and good looking enough to appeal to the youngsters but he’s playing – Blues. Had he been treading a trendier path like that of Culcha Candela or Jan Delay things might be different, but the Bluesworld would be missing a promising vanguard act. His sound is not particularly innovative although there is a French Chanson edge to his Blues at times, but he plays a mean Bluesharp and has a mean Blues combo backing him too, especially guitarman Joseph Champagnon. The Funky ‘Spread like Butter’ and cool romantic ‘Farewell My Love ’wend their way into my eardrums particularly smoothly (like butter actually). He also pulls a mean Party Trick on the closing number approprately titled ‘Welcome to the Party’ where band members each swap instruments – Pasi finishing up on drums with Champagnon on Harp. Super stuff, and please Bonn Harmonie – book these guys soon!
“Tonight I played to more people than I’ve ever played to before” twittered Kyla La Grange after her set. The Watford born girl slipped onto the stage almost unnoticed with her Band to get the second support slot underway. She has a ‘Vampire Diaries’ look about her and I suspect she is more comfortable in small night-time gigs right now, but if the music and videos on her website are anything to go by she will have the chance to get used to big audiences after her debut CD comes out this month. Like Charles Pasi, someone to Watch and enjoy in the coming years for sure.
Before leaving the stage Kyla La Grange took a picture of the river of faces that had become a veritable Sea during her set. It was a varied Sea of faces too. They were young, old, male and female. All though had a look of high expectancy. Last year at Museumsplatz Zaz had been something of a surprise element for many people, delivering one of the most outstanding Shows between the Museums ever. Could she equal it? Top it even?
The familiar glockenspiel chime of ‘Les Passants’ signals the Arrival onstage of Isabelle Geffroy aka Zaz as it did a year ago, and indeed many things tonight remain the same. The translation help from audience members setting the scene for the chilling Edith Piaf classic ‘Dans Ma Rue’, The ‘Statuette’ moment midway through a hectic song, The Tibetan Singing Bowls that, despite their delicate size, seemed to fill the entire Arena area with their calming tones. Without a new disc, most of the songs remain the same too.
I detect though a palpable change, not just in the music, but also in the Lady making it. Gone are the brightly decorated stockings and bright red sneakers. Zaz 2012 has a more refined red piping down each side of her generously cut and beautifully tailored trousers, giving her youthful sporty look a High Fashion injection. She hops about the stage in the familiar sprightly fashion but a tick more purposefully than before. There is something more calculated about her movements that seemed totally ‘spur of the moment’ before – or maybe it’s down to the punishing Tour Schedule that success has brought. Certainly, when I watch from the audience later in the evening Zaz seems the sprightly wildfire of old. My guess is that, quite simply, the energy from her fans recharges her.
The Music played is largely unaltered from a year ago although it has a rockier sound at times – due possibly to an additional guitarist. Perhaps because the material is so familiar to her now, Zaz seems to most enjoy audience involvement periods – the audience do too as in ‘Ni qui ni non’ whose lyric translated “A little sweeter, a little more salty. No, I prefer it when it’s spicy” is as good an introduction to her approach to music and perhaps life in general. She relishes the less familiar as when announcing a ‘Surprise’ and launching into a new tune with German lyrics that are taped to the stage. At such times the infectious enthusiasm is back at full force. Late in the set she sits at the drumkit with an impish smile that threatens a solo of Ian Pace proportions. In the event she uses the brushes instead to paint a mesmerising backdrop rhythm to her real instrument of choice – her voice. She uses it as an instrument too of course to great effect on ‘Je Veux’. So much so that the Internet is strewn with the question “How does Zaz do that?!”.
It’s when she sings though that Zaz shows her true, timeless class. The voice: It’s a little deeper and a little more raw these days. Age or Touring related as that may be, it promises to mature like good wine – if given time and treated with care. If there is any cause for concern it is that so many people want to hear this wonderful ‘instrument’ and Zaz clearly loves to sing to them. It’s a tall order to give 110% at every concert.
So, did Zaz manage to top her performance in Bonn last year? I think she just might have.