Thekla | 28th March

Arriving onstage, frontman François Marry exclaims: ‘It feels like we’re coming home!’

Though originally from France, Marry moved to Bristol after his studies, where his passion for making music deepened as did his love of Bristol’s creativity and diverse cultural scene. The band’s first studio album was released in 2006 on Bristol label Stitch Stitch, but their love of music and exploring cultures has propelled them around the world.

After much excitement from the crowd and a few ‘ooh lala’s, the band dive straight in to the brilliance of their latest album, Solide Mirage. Critics have called it their most political album yet, but this is somewhat lost on the majority of us as Marry sings in French and the crowd groove away to lead single ‘Grand Dérèglement’s sonic innocence obliviously. It’s a truly joyous affair, with its opening Arabic baseline getting everyone dancing, the twin guitar and synth melodies filling the room with an ecstatic, exotic air.

Next up is another one from the new album – ‘Tendre est l’Âme’ – which shows off François’ delicate French voice. The band seem disappointed to tell the crowd they’re only allowed to play for an hour, and we’re reminded that the band have enough great material to fill a much longer set. ‘La Vérité’ is next and it’s instantly recognisable as one of the band’s finest – a short, simple, quirky piece of alt-pop genius. The band take this opportunity to unleash their semi-spontaneous bout of synchronized dancing and it goes down a storm.

The crowd is only more impressed when it’s announced that the drummer onstage is standing in last-minute, raising the roof for his flawless effort. ‘Apocalypse à lpsos’ is next, the extended ending showcases François’ nimble guitar-picking fingers. The extended songs could at times feel a little self-indulgent, however, and new album banger ‘Âpres Aprés’ felt a little too drawn out. This is understandable, though, as Marry has admitted that playing more than just standard album tracks is what he loves most about playing live.

The real highlight was the perfectly executed Arabic-style vocals and Afrobeats which preluded ‘Âpres Aprés’. After talking of the band’s experiences in Ethiopia, Marry’s eyes light up as he speaks of the shoulder dancing they were taught there. For a moment, Thekla is transported to a mystical African paradise. The performance summed up the joyous cultural influence which ‘Solide Mirage’ has incapsulated so well. As the band left the stage, the stand-in drummer leapt towards the bar, and Marry laughed ‘someone buy this man a drink!’

Check out ‘Âpres Après’ below.