Midlake in Paris and Brussels (Part 4 – Fairguson)


It was a long and tiring drive back to the French Capital and we had to stop along the way to give poor Olaf a rest and for Thomas to take over the driving duties. We got into Paris at around 6:30-7AM. Thomas dropped me off right by my hotel. I staggered in half asleep, got my room key and went upstairs and fell into a deep deep sleep.
I woke around 12 and I couldn’t be bothered to move out of bed so I went back to sleep for an hour. I finally decided to get out of bed and have a shower and make some phone calls. Thankfully my phone was working after I had some trouble registering it the previous day. I was nearly out of credit but managed to get some more and make phone calls home to my girlfriend Elizabeth, my Sister and my mate James.

I gave Thomas a ring, he said he would be heading to the venue at around 5:30 to set up and sound check. There was time to kill so I went and grabbed a coffee in the cafe around the corner. I then wandered through Pigalle to an Irish pub I rather liked on my previous visits to Paris called Corcorrans. (What is it with Brits abroad and Irish Pubs?).
I grabbed a Guinness and watched a rather boring Premiership football game on TV. I didn’t really care much for the result as my team (Swansea City) had done the biz the day before with a 2-1 over Brighton and Hove Albion. I people watched for a while and sank another Guinness before heading off to the metro to meet Thomas up in Montmartre and the Le Funambule theatre.

The metro was busy even for a sunday and was very warm down underground. It was round one of the French Presidential elections and there were plenty of people on the streets, but unfortunately for Thomas and his band Fairguson, many would be glued in front of their TV screens watching the results come through.

I was expecting to get lost in the winding streets, but I found Rue De Saule moments after leaving the metro. I walked into the small intimate theater where Anabel was there with Olaf, Thomas and Kubii. They were busy with leads and amps and keyboards trying to perfect the sound levels. I sat next to Anabel and the young singer from support band Top Montagne (she recognised me from MySpace). We talked for a while as Thomas went upstairs to the mixing desk. The strains of ‘Onward’ by Yes and Robert Gomez’ ‘Brand New towns’ sauntered over the PA, in homage to the previous days amazing events.

The bar was not going to be open for tonights show so I went up the road to a corner shop and bought some water to share with everyone. People were now starting to arrive and Top Montagne were getting ready to play for us after finishing their sound check.
I sat near the front and waited for the music to begin…..

Top Montagne are what I would call a proper ‘Lo-Fi’ band. I mean that in a good way as it was good to see something different. Comprising of an Acoustic Guitar, a Saw and various other weird and wonderful instruments such as xylophone, squeezebox, childrens toys and keyboards, the trio played some cheerful folky pop that everyone enjoyed. Despite the instruments the band used, this is was in no way an avant garde pop group performance. Think of Gruff Rhys from The Super Furry Animals let loose in the studio with a load of fisher price toys and you will get my drift. Very nice sounds though!

It was time for Thomas, Olaf and Kubii to get up on stage and with the sounds of Yes still playing over the PA, they took their positions. Thomas had this amazing acoustic guitar with fairy lights stuck all over it and Kubii’s synths had even more lights attached and a flashing plastic duck!
Thomas and anabel

Opening with ‘Fairguson Bird’ from their album Tractor melodies, Fairguson took us on a journey through their debut album. The gentle lilting ‘Collectionneur de Mcormick’ with its melancholic synth and haunting vocals was definately a highlight and this was only the second song of the set! Thomas sitting on a wicker chair talked to the audience in French and made a few jokes before introducing a new song called ‘Lost Again’. I had previously heard a rough demo of this song and it really worked well live and sounded amazing. Possibly this is the sound of the next Fairguson album? we will have to wait and see. We were then treated to a duet with Anabel (Thomas’ girlfriend) and Fairguson singing their cover of ‘Happy Talk’. (When not playing with Fairguson, Thomas plays drums with Anabels’ band ‘Anabels Poppy Day‘). It was nice to see as I have not been to see Anabel play and it was a bonus.

A personal favourite of mine followed next – ‘Goodbye my Lariboisiere’, this was the first song I had ever heard by Fairguson and was thrilled to hear such a sparkling live version. The only songs they didn’t play (which I would have loved to hear) were ‘Massey Ferguson’ and ‘Nos Jouets un Plastique. But being an acoustic show it was probably a hard task to re-create acoustically.

‘Map Monde’ was played at high tempo with Olaf on electric guitar adding a different twist to the studio version, very good though nonetheless.
Soon it was all over and the audience gave great applause to a wonderful performance by both bands and everyone slipped away into the humid Parisienne night air. We stood around outside and chatted for a while before grabbing all the bands equipment and taking it to Thomas’ flat which was conveniently just up the street. Thomas told me after the show that he was ready to do rock ‘n roll again which was great news meaning that new material was on it’s way!
Olaf had to go early and we said our farewells promising to e-mail and keep in touch (which we have). It was sad to see Olaf go as we became really good friends the last few days, and it won’t be too long I’m sure before we meet up again.

The weekend was sadly coming to an end and to make the most of it we sojourned to a small bar and had a drink and a Pizza with Anabel, Thomas and two of their friends. I don’t think any of us wanted to go home that night as it meant a return to reality – Me going home, Anabel and Thomas returning to their day jobs and normality. We were all tired and at around midnight we said goodbye and farewell. I walked along Rue Moncouer turning back one last time to see Thomas and Anabel go their ways before disappearing. With a tired body and a heavy heart to leave friends, I walked back to Rue de Clignancourt to my hotel. I had an early flight to Amsterdam to catch in the morning which would take me home to Cardiff and back to the grind of everyday life.
To say it was a memorable weekend would be an understatement, or as Thomas would say “These are awesome days my friend”. Very true indeed!
So thank you my Parisienne friends (Thomas,Olaf and Anabel and a cast of thousands!) Thank you Eric N, Mckenzie, Tim, Eric P, Paul,Rachel, Robert Gomez, Stephanie and her band, Britt, Peter, Ludo and everyone else I met on my European adventure!
We’ll see you soon for more “Awesome Days!”

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