Concert Review: Broken Bells @ La Cigale

Broken BellsBroken Bells’ return is kind of a big deal, four years after their last gig here in Paris. To welcome the creative duo formed by James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), a packed up venue filled with excitement. As soon as they appear on the 60s sci-fi stage, everyone seems ready to take off for a real space oddity. A video running in the background completes the whole picture.

It’s all about space and time. Though you’re not physically travelling, everything is intended to make your mind go high from the very first synth notes of opener Perfect World. With The Ghost Inside and After The Disco, the crowd can demonstrate their dancing talents to these modern disco tunes that inevitably wake up a certain nostalgia. After The Disco is indeed a very well-put name for an album whose songs recall that feeling when you’re home at 6 A.M. after a wild night out, strangely wondering if you’re even happy with your life.

Songs from each album are equally played: Mongrel Heart, The Mall & Misery, The Angel and the Fool precede the Bee Gees inspired single Holding On for Life. What strikes the most is James Mercer’s sharp voice, as powerful and solid live as on record – very impressive. Control is a highlight of the night and shows the duality of Broken Bells’ musical identity, between sparkly dance music and melancholic, atmospheric music.

Brian Burton is not saying much during the gig to say the least, but Mercer shows enough happiness for two. Swapping instruments with their gifted backing musicians, the band can demonstrate their great professionalism and perfect, ethereal sound live. The classy and elegant The Changing Lights clearly moves the crowd, which welcomes The High Road with screams of joy after a very emotional acoustic version of Leave It Alone that got them singing along with much passion.

A Broken Bells gig is a rare and special moment when you can feel music is celebrated as the most precious of all arts. You can call yourself privileged if you ever attended one of these.

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Cécile Vacuum-Cloud | @Ceciliness

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