January 18, 2006
Not always DVDs - MYLENE FARMER live in Paris
Mylène Farmer - Live at the Paris Bercy arena, 2006
This weekend I was in Paris to see Mylène Farmer in concert. I’ve been describing her to friends as “France’s answer to Madonna”, but that’s doing Mylène a disservice. She’s been releasing successful albums and singles for twenty years now. Her music varies between dance, rock and melancholy pop. She sings about love and death, heavily influenced by gothic and romantic literature. Her videos are spectacular, liberated and often as controversial as her lyrics. She is reclusive and doesn’t grant many interviews. Her stage appearances are rare, the last was in 1999.
Oh yes, and it’s all in French, which I don’t speak much of. But I love her music, her videos and her attitude.
I saw Mylène at the Paris Bercy arena on January 14th, 2006, (having booked a ticket early in 2005). The atmosphere before the show was anticipatory to say the least. The papers reported that the first fans arrived 12 hours before the doors opened. Mylène arrived on stage in spectacular style that symbolised her re-emergence from self-imposed exile. Lowered from the arena roof in a white sarcophagus, she was carried to the temple-like stage by men in black.
The set transformed throughout the evening and was constantly textured by images projected onto the backdrops and from under the immense catwalk. For anyone the show would be extremely entertaining, for fans it was an absolute treat. The dramatic staging of her final number was haunting and unforgettably magnéfique.
She performed songs ranging from her earliest hits, like Libertine, to her latest, F**k Them All. These were presented variously as high-tech lightshows, flamenco dance routines or just straightforward rocking out. As a centrepiece to the evening, she sang some of her most heart-rending lyrics accompanied only by piano. Dressed in her trademark black lingerie, with her red hair coiffed like a candle’s flame, she was repeatedly reduced to tears. But whenever she stopped singing, the audience would carry on for her. For such a large venue, the event had many intimate moments.
Besides the thirteen dates in January, there may be extra shows in May. But they can only be held at this Paris venue because it’s simply too large to tour. Thankfully the early performances have been filmed for an upcoming DVD release.