Yann Tiersen >> I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood for French-born Yann Tiersen’s final US show of the Infinity tour. Would he be playing solo, composing an orchestra or enlisting a band? Would the show be entertaining or stuffy? Would I regret missing the other concert I had booked for the same night?
Being a typical American girl, I only knew about him through his marvelous work on the Amélie soundtrack, for which he wrote the entire 20 track album in just two weeks. As if one needed any other indication of his unequivocal musical talent, he also is behind eight studio albums as well as several additional movie soundtracks and live records. Prior to the show, I decided to listen to some of this other work to get a feel for his other material. However, I still wasn’t able to place him or figure out what kind of show he might have.
His opening band, NO, reminded me of an LA version of Modern English with their three guitars and belligerent—though incredibly adorable—Kiwi front man who later took pictures with fans and signed my friend’s freshly purchased vinyl of their album 'El Prado'. With a rock band to start the show, I was beginning to think maybe this Yann guy would deliver something unexpected and remarkable.
During the short intermission I walked over to the adjoining restaurant Blue Palms Brewhouse for a quick—and delicious!—craft beer for a few dollars cheaper than at the Fonda. Just as the lights were beginning to dim, I noticed that I had come back to a fuller theatre with a slightly older crowd who clearly were there to witness artistry rather than get faded and rock out.
The show began with the opening lines of the track ‘Meteorites’ off the new album ‘∞’ [Infinity], which features a Scottish sounding narrator. To my delight, the man himself walked out and instantly began playing the toy piano, set atop an electric keyboard. Shortly after, he was accompanied by a full band of talented young men, each who played a variety of instruments throughout the set.
To give you a better picture of the band, here’s how I would describe them:
- A full-sized version of Peter Dinklage [aka Tyrion from Game of Thrones] on the drums
- Robb Stark meets Jon Snow [also GoT] on the keyboards
- Comedian Doug Benson playing bass
- A platinum blonde version of Mike Myers Sprockets’ character ‘Dieter’ at the xylophone
- A young Dustin Hoffman as Yann the man
In all seriousness, the group performed exquisitely and I couldn’t take my eyes off them and their aptitude for making fine music.
From being serenaded in one of many foreign languages to the harmony of two acoustic guitars and a mandolin, to rocking out to a xylophone battle accompanied by a bass jam, to trancing out to some bizarre galactic sounds on the synthesizer, I’d have to say that the multifaceted layers of Tiersen’s music brought something for everyone.
In addition to those mentioned above, I’d have to say it would be easier to count all the instruments that weren’t played than the ones that were. Being the Francophile that I am, I of course loved the single track from the Amélie soundtrack that he played, though I also loved his jam sessions and the fact that he never played an instrument more than twice.
I have to give mad props to their lighting crew for singling out the main performer of each song and slowly lighting up the next instrument that came into play. It allowed the audience to focus on one component at a time and truly appreciate what each artist had to offer. Rarely can I say that I enjoyed the lighting at a show, so that should speak for itself.
All in all, if you want to truly experience music as an art form rather than to hear a hit pop single, then Yann Tiersen is what you should go for. Though note he may get annoyed if you start yelling at him to play Amélie.