Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Gage: The Bataclan, Paris 09/10/08

Gage: Bataclan, Paris 09/10/08
Gage: Bataclan, Paris 09/10/08 Gage: Bataclan, Paris 09/10/08

To all those Anglophones who thought that musical life ended at the cliffs of the Dover and that the only thing on the other side of the channel was a desert, think again - French (language) R'n'B is alive and well and accumulating a growing following.

Pierre Gage, though not French but French Canadian, has had, along with one time collaborator Corneille, a growing influence on the French Rn’B scene in this first decade of the 21st century. His influences , from classic soul and Motown through to Bob Marley and more recently John Legend shine through in the music.

The charming theatre cum ex-musical hall the Batalcan with its 1500 or so capacity also was the perfect venue to sample this and Gage’s considerable personality and stage presence.

Two albums into his career, the 31 year old singer wasted no time showcasing tracks from new album 'Changer le Monde.' Kicking off the show with a beefed-up production of 'Je Veux Etre Libre (I want to be free),' he cut a swathe back and forth across the stage, receiving as he went, near adulation from the front part of the crowd.

This was just the start of many memorable moments that filled 1 _ hours concert. During the heartfelt song 'Pardonne-Moi' the crowd needed minimal prompting to start singing the chorus of the same name and the sound fed out like a ripple right up into the balcony and around the acoustically excellent venue. 'Dou Dou' had a distinct ‘flava’ instrumentally and vocally of Craig David’s 'Rise and Fall,' though lyrically the former was about love, therefore completely different to the story of ambition and loss in the latter.

Nor was work from Gage’s debut 2005 album 'Soul Rebel' neglected. The ultra-soft reggae rhythm and ‘faux’ high pitch vocalization of 'Trop fresh (Too Fresh)' was definitely one for the ladies as the singer clothes were slowly peeled away to reveal rippling flesh. Gage pointed to the ladies in the balconies who were seen rising and dancing (there were some gents as well, I believe). On the other hand, another song from that album 'Pense a moi (Think of Me)' on the other sounded a little bland by comparison.

Proving a man of considerable talents, Gage also showed himself an able singer in English as well as French, when , to a somewhat bemused looking audience, he finished the main part of his show with a fine rendition of James Brown’s 'Its a Man’s, Man's, Man's World.'

The encore part also yielded some surprises. The rising French female R’n’B singer VITAA strode purposefully on stage to the obvious delight of the crowded to perform a sexy duet with Gage to perform their hit 'Tu Peux Chosir (You Can Choose)' – a tale of relationship woes. Gage was backed by a very able band and the surprises kept coming when one of the band went into a rap cum ringmeister role . Like a puppetmaster, he rapped instructions to the crowd on the ground level to move back and then to one side , then the other, then go low (an activity which left the knees of some in shock). Then finally we all bounced forward. This cycle was repeated for about 10 mins, quite fun, and certainly something I have never witnessed in a concert before.

Then to close the show another classic track in English and you felt the presence of Prince. Gage covered 'Purple Rain' almost as the 80’s original. This great sound proved a fitting end and left the crowd with a good vibe as they made their way out. But in truth, the combination of the charming venue itself and Gage’s warm and unceasing engagement with the audience had created that vibe in the first place.

French style R’n’ B may be softer, and lyrically based far more on the intricacies of relationships rather than actions but it nontheless merits attention if this live performance was anything to judge by.

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