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Ange - Le Tour De La Question CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.54 | 12 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Epic

It's always an awkward experience to see a band live in concert some 30 years after they put out the material you know and love. Such was the case with me, as I was only acquainted with their 70's output (and not even in its entirety). Still, I took the chance to go and see one of the bands whose albums I so much admire, knowing altogether that they were still a working band and the chances of seeing the classical stuff played live were slim. So I grabbed the car and drove into the heart of Portugal for the Gouveia Art Rock festival, where I had an encounter with Ange - literally. It was noon when I parked next to the theatre and went to get my ticket. Outside, laughing, smoking and taking pictures in a jolly mood were none other than the band! Flabbergasted, I couldn't find in my head anything intelligent to say - especially in French. So I didn't. I just stood there like an idiot watching the band take pictures, not two feet away from the immense figure of Christian Decamps. Eventually my friends arrived and dragged me in my numbness into the nearest restaurant, for a good lunch before the opening of the festival.

The first day was highly enjoyable and productive (I have a couple more reviews lined-up for artists who played that afternoon), but I was eagerly anticipating the night show, even if completely unaware of what I was about to see. My fears were completely unjustified - the band was tight, professional, exciting to watch and great to listen. Even if they only played three songs I was familiar with (Exode, Aurelia and Ode à Emile), the remaining set was good enough, even if they had a heavier sound, and a more conventional hard-rock approach. I left the room still shivering after witnessing such a demonstration of power. Outside, the little counter on the foyer was selling pieces of Ange to take home. Although they had they last three studio offering there, I opted for purchasing this one. It wasn't a blind purchase; I knew exactly what I was getting, after reading Erik's review some months ago. I can only say that, once again, you can't go wrong with Mr. Neuteboom's advice.

What we have here is an amazing tour de force by the band as whole, and not just the founding member Christian Decamps. This new Ange ensemble is bursting with youth in an exciting over two-hour long show. The sound of the band seems less reminiscent of the early days, adopting a more modern sonority that makes them lose some of the uniqueness that characterized them (the lack of the distinct interplay between Brezovar and Francis Decamps is obvious), while placing them on the level of more recent energic French prog like Taal and Seven Reizh. Not knowing their material following Guet-Apens, I cannot really comment on the live quality the songs the band played from their latest album at the time, ?, against its studio counterparts. I can say, nevertheless, that they sound closer to a more mainstream hard rock sound than to the glory days of progressive Ange. I'm not saying they are bad - in fact they are quite the opposite: if only more mainstream rock could sound like this!

We are thus offered the following tracklist: from their ? album, Le couteau suisse, Ricochets, Histoires d'outre rêve, Entre foutre et foot, Le couer a corps and Jazzoullis - all of these are delivered between the energetic and the delicate, accordingly to their mood. From their classic period, which I would place between the debut and Guet-Apens, the band present us with the opening track, the poem section from Caricactures; from the debut album of the same name, two songs from Le Cemitière des Arlquins, Aujourd'hui c'est la fête chez l'apprenti sorcier and Ces Gent-là, both delivered with fiery passion and artistry; from the album Au-Delà du Délire (their magnum opus, in this reviewer's opinion), they played the profane Si j'étais le Messie and the bombastic Fils de Lumière, the first being the first big ovation of the night, while the second provided space for some jamming and soloing. Jour Après Jour was the only song taken from Émile Jacotey, and it received an ethnic treatment, with the band going from French folk to world music with an Arabic twist in few minutes, courtesy of the muezzin-like chant provided by guitarist Hassan Hajdi. Songs from their post-Guet-Apens period included Vu d'un chien, a funky and fun song taken from the homonymous 1980 album, Harmonie, a nice piano-synth-guitar solo ballad from 1984's Fou!, here delivered by Tristan Decamps, and Le ballon de Billy, from 1992's Les Larmes du Dalaï Lama, where Hassan Hajdi showcases (or, better said, shows off) his guitar skills with an elaborate final solo. There is also time for some good-humoured messing around, when the bands pokes fun at Joe Dassin, in a short but amusing exercise that has to been seen and heard for full appreciation. Finally, Le chien, la poubelle et la rose, an Ange live classic, played since their early days, which (to my knowlege) does not appear in any of their studio albums. An epic track that provided a perfect closing track for this concert. Or did it? In fact, for some odd reason, the actual final track from the concert, played in the encore after Ces Gent-là, was cut off from the main film and added as a bonus in the DVD. It is the dramatic and highly theatrical Quasimodo, where the real star is the young Decamps, Tristan, showing that he is not simply Christian's son - he is an improved clone of his father's 1970's self, with a higher vocal range and bigger versatility. Another live classic which I can't seem to find on any Ange studio release, this is one of those pieces that just take you in a musical rollercoaster ride. The other bonus track is a live rendition, taken a year after the main concert, of the classic epic Capitaine Cour de Miel, which as Mr. Neuteboom states, will give you goose bumps once you see and hear Christian's remarkable acting and the sublime musical crescendo to the symphonic blissful finale.

All in all, a really great live experience, that any proghead should track down and get. The DVD film is almost perfect, even if lacking in extras. The biggest problem is the lack of the DVD highlights on the shorter CD than accompanies it (most notably Fils de Lumière and Quasimodo). On a curious sidenote, it looks as if Christian Decamps had a monumental cold that night - you can hear it in his voice at times. At a certain point, you can see him blowing his nose between songs, as well as having what seems to be a bundle of tissues on his little piano. Considering the amount of air he must had expelled during the night, it's really a feat that he came out of this concert still breathing. But then again, judging from what this concert showcases (and from what I had the chance to see for myself 3 years later), Christian Decamps might well be immortal.

Kotro | 4/5 |


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