Like many I suspect, when I hear the name Yann Tiersen I immediately think of “that guy who did the Amelie soundtrack”. But in fact, when you look beyond this connection with film soundtracks you begin to understand that Yann, a Brittany-born, classically-trained composer has a love for music that courses through every inch of his veins.
Tiersen has been sharpening his musical virtuosity since he was 4-years old when he first started playing piano. By his early teens, he had gained a place at several prestigious musical academies across France. This is why the humble basement setting of Club Academy is a somewhat unlikely venue for a man who is used to playing in theatres and concert halls. However, the various orchestral sections that you might expect to find on stage have been replaced by a platter of pedals, synthesisers and samplers. A standard 4 strong band completes the set up; drums, bass, lead guitar and keyboard.
From the first track ‘Till the End’, we are introduced to a backdrop of synthetic sound and a tranquil atmosphere is formed that would last the entire duration of the gig. The crowd looks on with curious awe as the band rip through several tracks from Dust Lane (2010) and Skyline (2011), including ‘Fuck Me’, a track which Tiersen describes himself as his take on “a love song”. It is from this point that the multi-instrumentalist comes into his own. His piano and violin skills are showcased on ‘The Gutter’, ‘Amy’ and ‘Ashes’ respectively; at one point he even starts messing around with a melodica. However, the highlight of the night is without doubt an unexpected cover of Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’ where even the most static member of the audience is forced to bop along.
Tiersen is right in saying that Skyline is “a much more spacious record than anything he has done before”. It is splattered with various distortions, textures and an obvious synthetic presence. As a live spectacle it is perfect for a couple of friends catching up over a few drinks, just don’t expect to be completely blown away.