"A Propos d'Ange" / Christian Décamps & Fils

Live at the "143" (Paris) - Sept. 17th, 1994

This review has been first published in the american magazine Exposé (reprinted with permission).

The idea to organize an Ange "tribute concert" had been floating in our heads for a while but we had to wait the proper opportunity to see it materialize: the simultaneous release by Musea of the new Christian Décamps album, "Nu", and the "A propos d'Ange" tribute CD. We (Entr'Rock'N'Roll) joined force with Musea who thought that coproducing a concert was a good way to promote both albums. The compilation project, coordinated by Philippe Mottée, lead-singer of Naos and busy activist on the live prog rock front, was an interesting way for young bands who had clearly borrowed from a "Great Elder" to ackowledge their filiation in an official way. To put some of these bands together with the Great Elder's charismatic leader on the same stage was an exciting prospect. However, it had been clear from the start that it would not be an Ange concert. Christian was coming to promote "Nu", strong with a new energy after his encounter with the enthousiastic Muséa team and his work with Jean-Pascal Boffo whose important creative input can be detected on the album.

After a spoken introduction by Philippe Mottée, coordinator of the support acts and perfect master of ceremony, Versailles (from Lille) opened the show, followed by Caféine and finally Naos (both from Paris). Each set lasted half an hour and included the Ange covers featured in "A Propos d'Ange" (respectively "Des Yeux Couleur d'Enfant", "Aujourd'hui C'est la Fête chez l'Apprenti Sorcier" and "Le Nain de Stanislas") plus two or three original songs from each band. As a last encore, Philippe offered his microphone to a special guest: Pierre-Yves Theurillat, lead-singer of the switz band Galaad, that we had invited to travel to Paris, due to his strong connections with Christian Décamps. As a personal tribute to Ange, he sang "Le Soir du Diable", backed by Naos musicians. It would have been difficult to guess that they had not rehearsed together if Pierre-Yves had not been reading the lyrics from a sheet of paper. I can assure that the bootleg tapes of that evening will be worth listening only because of this song ! The passionate interpretation litterally made the audience shiver. The physical presence of Pierre-Yves, his stage charisma and his expressive voice make this young singer one of the most fascinating we have in Europe, a cross somewhere between Fish and Christian Décamps !

After a half hour pause during which people were invited to meet various fanzine teams, buy CDs at the Muséa stand, exchange views about the previous performances, have their CD booklets signed by the musicians or simply have a drink at the bar, it was time to go back for more music.

With a humorous and poetic spoken introduction, Christian Décamps, backed by his son Tristan on keyboards / backing vocals and Jean-Pascal Boffo's band, opened the show with an energetized version of "Le Mal d'Adam" linked with the rearranged "Sur les Plaines du Grand Manitou" featuring amazing fusion drumming and grunge riffs by Jean-Pascal (can you believe that ?) ! Very impressive ! During the rest of his 1h40-long set, Christian played several songs from his solo albums and, as expected, closed the show with a few Ange classics: "Sur la Trace des Fées" (similar to the version on "A Propos d'Ange", with Christian on keyboards and Jean-Pascal on acoustic guitar). I admit having never been a great fan of Christian's voice but hearing it onstage is another matter: power and emotion illuminated the rearranged song. "Fils de Lumière" soon followed, then "Ces Gens-là" (the classic Jacques Brel cover) and "Ode a Emile". This last one is the hymn of the faithful Ange fans (the "fan-clan" as they are nicknamed). Christian kindly invited all the lead-singers of the previous bands plus Pierre-Yves Theurillat to meet him onstage and they all shared the verses of the famous ballad, joined by the audience: another moment of intense emotion for the Sons as well as for the Father. In these days of cold mega-concerts, it is good to share these nice moments of conviviality.

Regarding the hard figures (fellow amateur concert organizers know what I am talking about...), we were glad to welcome a little more than 200 people to the show. Glad because it is better than the average attendance to our prog concerts (around 120 people) and because this time, we were able to balance our budget and even make some profits which were partly redistributed to the opening bands. Nevertheless, it is a little sad to see that a show in Paris by the leader of the most influencial francophone progressive band (Ange used to play in front of 10000 people back in the 70's and remained the central interest of french rock magazines during several years) does not attract more people / fans.

Jean-Luc Putaux

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