Review: Coeur De Pirate at the Luminaire

This is perhaps a difficult review to write; I had such high hopes for this show but left ultimately feeling quite disappointed.  A huge fan of the self titled album, I was very excited to finally hear the songs from it live. I can’t fault Beatrice’s piano or vocal performance, and her guitarist/violinist provided stellar accompaniment- but something felt very disconnected. Perhaps it was quite simply just lost in translation.

The Luminaire was busier than I had ever seen it, with people pouring in as soon as the doors opened. It’s hard to gauge the real following Coeur De Pirate has over here in the UK, because literally something like 80% of the audience were French. Understandably, Coeur De Pirate is a huge success in France and has clearly built up a pretty devoted fan-base. It’s not hard to see why they adore her, she is very talented and has crafted a brilliant album- but they were treating her like she was Madonna or something. The reception was insane; the flashes from dozens of point and shoot cameras and snaps of mobile phones was really quite impressive. But it just went on and on… and, even as a fan, it all felt very over the top and a bit unfounded. Maybe it’s just because I’m used to pretty conservative shows at the Luminaire, but it was quite overwhelming and left me feeling quite confused and alienated. All the gushing worship from her fans almost made me feel a bit like the kid in the corner at a party- I just did not get it, and so it all felt quite hollow.

Talking with my friends afterwards they felt the same, and I wondered if it was because I could not understand the banter or the lyrics -like when a joke is told and everyone laughs but you don’t get it, but it was simply because I don’t speak French. But, having gone to another French show tonight (Emily Loizeau at the Bush Hall) I can say it has nothing to do with the language because I didn’t feel that way at all tonight.

I don’t intend to sound harsh or to make it seem like Beatrice does not deserve these adoring fans, but for her first UK show it just seemed quite disjointed. And I most certainly don’t deny that she’s got alot of talent, but I felt the show lacked alot of charm.  Maybe it would have been different with a different crowd. It all felt very bizarre and off, and I did not appreciate the rude chatter through The Mariner’s Childrens’ set, or the girl who decided to walk across the stage while they played because she was too lazy to walk round- especially when the Luminaire is all about shutting up while bands play. I hate to be such a critic, I wanted so much to love this show, but I just did not enjoy it and I didn’t feel anything. Just the type of person I am, it makes me feel guilty to not like something, but I’m also not really a fan of lying- and this is just how I felt.

To end on a much cheerier note- The Mariner’s Children were very good this particular evening. It was the fourth time I’ve seen them and I enjoyed it the most, Back I Beat The Waves and Waltz For A Sleeping Lover are two beautiful songs worth having a listen to, here is their Myspace.

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20 Responses to Review: Coeur De Pirate at the Luminaire

  1. Paul B November 20, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    Great review Anika – honesty in music journalism always makes for good reading, whether the result is detrimental or benevolent to the performer. Great piece :)

    • anikainlondon November 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

      thanks Paul!

  2. gerlin November 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Oh Anika, you describe exactly how I felt. Only I guess with Belgium it’s more understandable – with half of our country speaking French. I think me and my friend were maybe the two only Flemish speaking people. It happens a lot at shows that bands say ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’ and all that and that’s very charming but when you start an entire conversation with the audience and you make jokes.. I understand French pretty well but still my friend and I didn’t really ‘get’ it. The same had already happened with the support – who wasn’t that good to start with. I’m sad to say that I was glad when the show was over because I also felt that – even without the jokes or the interaction in Frnech – the show wasn’t really special. It sounded like it did on the album, sometimes a bit more intimate but I didn’t feel anything when watching it.
    And as I have been to quite a lot of gigs I guess I get bored more easily.
    Anyway, as I said, Brussels is mostly French speaking anyway so I understand. But speaking French in London? How can you expect people from Britain to understand all that French whilst she also speaks Englsih? I can’t wrap my head around this.
    Of course all those fans that adored her aren’t your fault but again I get your point – it was the same in Belgium. I hadn’t realised she was huge in the French speaking part here. So yeah.. Thanks for being honest. And I’m really sorry for you because I know you’d really been looking forward to it.

    • anikainlondon November 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

      It’s a shame… it just all felt very odd.

  3. gerlin November 20, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    *her fault not your fault, sorry

  4. b November 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    I don’t know if you actually can’t understand when I speak Anika because I speak with my THICK Canadian accent, but all of my jokes, all of my interventions, everything, were in English.
    Plus, I do sing in french. I mean, what did you expect? It just so happens that I can speak English as well, but what if I wasn’t able to? I didn’t want to come to the UK because I knew it would be really hard for me to get my point across. Same goes for Belgium. I play shows in Brussels, and in Namur. Or in Liège. How am I supposed to know I have to speak in English in towns where I am told people are in majority french-speaking?

    Oh and I’m sorry people from France decided to show up, and make the trip because I can’t make it to their town. Can you blame them?
    Sorry, I’m pissed off. I think you have the right to be disapointed, but putting the blame on the artist for a situation that made you feel uncomfortable is completely uncalled for.

    • Lynn Roberts November 20, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

      I don’t think it was the French-ness that was the problem really. And there certainally were bits of banter in French and bits in English. I understand French reasonably well, but still felt the same as Anika.
      My problem with it was that the performance was pretty unaffecting. It kind of felt like an actor playing being an indie chick. I don’t know why I felt like that so it’s not really a position I can defend. It’s just what I thought.
      I also think you just have to accept that sometimes people won’t like your performances and leave it at that. There’s no point berating a reviewer for not liking a show.

      • Lynn Roberts November 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

        For the record I really love the Coeur de Pirate album

    • anikainlondon November 20, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

      Beatrice, I think you have taken this review far too personally and have over reacted. At no point in my review do I shift any ‘blame on the artist’ and I wrote it with no malice or bad feeling towards you or the crowd. I can understand that you feel defensive but I wasn’t even being THAT critical, I tried to be very fair and balanced and merely conclude that I did not enjoy the show and something felt very off.

      • B November 21, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

        You have every right to feel the way you did. Trust me, I know. I’m just sad you didn’t enjoy the show.
        And that most english speaking fans of the album didn’t enjoy it either.
        It’s not like that in Canada, and I did the exact same show in Toronto, and I think people got it there. I’ll just take a note for the next time I’m in the UK, which probably won’t happen again.

      • B November 21, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

        unless I sing in english, that is.

      • Roy November 23, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

        Beatrice, there were roughly 300 people at the show. Around 80 of which were English speaking. Just because three of them didnt connect with the music and wrote about their experiences online doesnt mean most english speaking fans of the album didnt enjoy the show.

        Many English speakers I spoke to after the show told me they had a great time. Not everyone will enjoy every gig.

        That said, I completely agree with Anika that some members of the audience were extremely rude (especially the girl that walked through Mariners Childrens set).

  5. girl November 20, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Throughout your whole review, Anika, it actually seems like you are apologizing for something. Don’t apologize for not liking a show. Sometimes you really look forward to a certain event, you put the artist on a pedestal and get quite deceived – or, simply, sometimes certain bands don’t work for people the same way live as they do on studio records. I had a terrible experience with SoKo when I first went to see her play and she was straight on absolutely rude to me – I don’t want to be a fan of someone like this. But in your case this is different – I guess when the crowd is the rude one, you sure can’t blame the artist, at the same time though, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and will surely have an impact on how you perceive the whole show. I would have liked to read a bit more about the actual performance – I know it’s difficult when you don’t enjoy it as much as you hoped to, but. yeah. curious, since I never got around to seeing her play.
    Just a small ‘correction’ to your review: the fact that the audience was 80% french doesn’t mean that they are not part of the UK following of Coeur de Pirate. I actually went to a gig in Camden once to see one of my friends’ friend’s band play, and the audience was 90% italian – they all lived in London though and were just super excited that Verdena, who are HUGE in Italy, were playing in London. The city you live in is extremely multicultural and hearing a lot of french spoken doesn’t mean these guys flew in all the way from France..

    As for you, B, I don’t think you should take this review that harsh. For one, criticism can be a good thing.. AND also, nowhere has Anika actually criticised your performance, she’s just written about her feelings towards the audience and the way it reacted..

  6. Sam November 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    Totally agree with the performance. I was standing next to a group of 3 French women who were talking so loudly during the Marniner’s Children performance! Felt very sorry for them.
    Even though you say it seemed distant with all the photography with in relation to the venue. She is a global star. She has reached, I believe No.1, in the Album Charts in France. I was not at all suprised by the volume of supporters, although I was rather disappointed by how many French people were there muttering away. I get lost in her music, not because it’s french, but because it’s beautifully constructed to make my emotions run wild. Unfortunately between each song, the language itself featured predominately, more so in Comme Des Enfants when some rude tall French guy started belting it out. NOT COOL! I felt so distant from the music than I have ever felt with it before

    I didn’t like the Mariner’s Children. A mix up between the Guillemots and Arcade Fire gone wrong. The female singer’s vocals were not loud enough and the cello got found out. I commend the male singers performance, but there was not much discipline, as they messed up a song and also stop started. I enjoyed Anna Log though, she was funny and her voice was great, awesome for a warm up act :)

    Great review though :D . Beatrice was amazing, I thought Corbeau was incredible and their new song was a nice suprise :) .

    • Tom November 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

      “cello got found out”
      I don’t understand, do you mean drowned out?

      • anikainlondon November 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

        I think so.

  7. Chongy November 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    A good review. Please don’t let any reaction dissaude you – this is an opinion piece, after all.

  8. robin November 22, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    Hey, I can identify with this too. It’s never really who the audience are, or where they’re from, it’s just that sometimes the behaviour of the crowd can ruin otherwise brilliant shows. Maybe it’s a cultural misunderstanding, but it can make for a very alienating and unpleasant experience.

    Some examples that stick out in my mind: seeing Radiohead – I love their music, but I wanted to strangle the sea of rude, irritating, uncaring English middle-class white-boys I was surrounded by. Alternately, seeing Camille perform at Koko in a predominantly French crowd was amazing! Everyone was so good natured and friendly, I felt welcome and part of something. Whereas at Radiohead I felt completely disconnected and irritated.

    Who knows why it’s like that? I really don’t think Anika is criticising Beatrice here.

  9. Cassandre November 23, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Dear Anika,

    I was also at the Luminaire Wednesday night.

    I have already seen CDP’s show in France and I really loved it. Unfortunately, London’s show didn’t let me the same impression. There was a kind of negative atmosphere that makes me not like it, as I had wished.

    To be honest, I didn’t really recognize the artist I saw in France. She didn’t seem as usual. She might have put to much pressure on herself for this show, had a bad day, too tired or having a bad feeling with the audience who was really different from the French one.

    I have talked to a lot of people before and after the show, to find what kind of audience were there. It was mostly French speaker people living in London. They understood clearly English and French. There was no translation problem for them. They didn’t t know CDP well and were mostly there to discover the new French sensation. It wasn’t a “fanatic audience”

    After the show, we heard a lot of negative comments from those people, that weren’t because of translation problems, but more with the singer behavior. We heard things such as “She didn’t t look to want to be here.” “The show was dashed off”, “She looks like she didn’t care of the audience” or “she was to self confident”.

    Anika, it s really a shame you had an experience like this. I wish you could have seen a “normal” show of CDP, it’s usually really cool. If you can see her in France or Belgium, you should really try, and I am sure you will have a different opinion…

  10. bcbfan April 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    I saw Coeur de pirate last week in Caen in Normandy and I really liked the show. I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the one at the Luminaire, which is a great venue as I’ve been there once (I even saw you in action by the way hehe). It’s almost like we didn’t see the same artist because she was all smiles and happy to be on stage while the atmosphere was very intimate despite the larger size of the venue (1000 people or so). It’s just too bad when an audience is annoyingly loud and undisciplined for this type of music. To finish of a higher note, great pics (as usual) !

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