Posts Tagged ‘Bellowhead’

Dionysos are a six-piece, six-album rock band hailing from the Rhône-Alpes région in south-west France, one of the country’s 27 regional jigsaw pieces. The band hit homeland fame with their first major label record release entitled Haiku (Coccinelle video here). It is for two reasons that Dionysos are special: their eccentricity and their linguistic abilities.

To illustrate the first point, Dionysos have songs in their locker called bizarre things like Le Roi en pyjama [The King in pyjamas] … L’homme qui pondait des œufs [the man who lays eggs] and Le retour de Bloody Betty [the return of Bloody Betty]. Secondly, the act fronted by Mathias Malzieu write and sing in both French and English. How many English bands can reciprocate?

A particular song I have chosen to extract from the Dionysos catalogue is called Thank you Satan. Taken from the group’s Whatever the Weather: Electrique album (2003), Thank you Satan is a romp of a tune that grows in force towards an eventual blunderbuss impact. A ukulele – overlaid with Élisabeth Maistre‘s soothing voice – provides an alluring yet harmless opening, only to be replaced by feathery violin strings and Malzieu’s pitch-perfect vocals. Later a baritone guitar begins the devastating march towards the end.

 

Dionysos (named after the Greek god of wine, theatre & ecstasy) certainly instill ritual madness in the listener with this frenzy of strings and percussions. More infectious than a supervirus…

Another reason I like this song is because of the Leo Ferre album hommage on the YouTube video which recalls the album art of The Futureheads – News & Tributes. Oh and the lyrics, which can be viewed here underneath the clip, are fantastic. References to the Bastille, Mr Mozart, Chateau Margaux and mon préféré – “the laughter of skulls”.

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Ever wondered why French music persistently fails to cross the “English” Channel, swamp our shores and pervade our playlists? Strange, non? Especially given that the Irish Sea continually fails to drown the wails of Jedward, Westlife, B*Witched & co. Neither did the North Sea successfully submerge the Barbie Girl antics of Aqua. The mighty Atlantic Ocean rarely proves an insurmountable obstacle for the hordes of American acts. Mysteriously though, the 21 mile stretch from Dover to Calais is some kind of Bermuda Triangle for the tricolor-waving troops of French bands…

This next post aims to change that fact, beginning with an introduction to a most eccentric act called Dionysos that I shall label the French Bellowhead.

Hopefully this post will help the English & others unearth French bands from across the Channel, or what the French call la manche [the sleeve]!

Merci et aurevoir.

Live this second over on BBC Radio 2 and Red Button is the 13th renewal of the Folk Awards. An unlucky number perhaps for some, but not for Bellowhead who are aiming to win their 6th Best Live Act title in 8 years. The maverick eleven-tet are also in the hat for their 3rd Best Group gong, to add to victories in 2007 and 2011. Lead vocalist and fiddler Jon Boden is up for his 2nd Best Folk Singer award, to clunk alongside two Best Duo awards he previously won with fellow Bellowheader melodean John Spiers. Hedonism will surely accompany an awards whitewash!

Completing the list for the coveted Best Folk Singer are June Tabor (and/of Oysterband), Jackie Oates & Emily Smith.

Tonight’s ceremony is being graced by performances from Seth Lakeman, regulars The Unthanks and later on – The Dubliners! Along with American Pie-artist Don McLean, the Irish aces will receive a Lifetime Achievement award to commemorate a marvellous 50 years in the business. Hearty renditions of Whiskey In The Jar, Wild Rover & Dirty Old Town down the years have injected the nation’s bloodstreams with nothing but warmth, thus the award is richly deserved.

An extra celebration of their half century service comes in a special programme entitled The Rocky Road From Dublin. Listen: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01blk01/The_Rocky_Road_From_Dublin_50_Years_of_The_Dubliners/

The best performance of the weekend goes to Janelle Monae, working the crowd for 10 feverish minutes with this version of Come Alive (War of the Roses) off her acclaimed debut The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III). One can’t deny the girl has got a fantastic voice. The dress and colour theme is also eye-catching. Look out at 8 minutes in when security struggle to restrain her from the crowd by clasping her pants! The poor bassist’s fingers must have been in tatters after this… he deserves a medal. Energy + crowd interaction + aesthetics = fabulous showing.

Other highlights of Glasto ’11 include Cee Lo Green literally steaming his way through a 17 song set dressed in what can only be described as the devil’s bondage. Elsewhere, eleven-piece Bellowhead were on typical top form out on the West Rocks Stage exhibiting their eclectic fiddle- accordion-bazouki-kazoo brand of jumpy, uplifting folk melodies. Do listen to Hedonism – the band’s third and latest album; one of my current favourites and approved by all.

See all at http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/festivals/glastonbury/2011/