If I was to summarize a whole Yann Tiersen concert into a single sentence, I would choose words by the man himself: "Let's live in an enormous world of sound we can use randomly, with no rules at all.” Because Mr. Tiersen, with a long musical career behind him, works with sound the way a child or an autodidact would do: in a curious and seemingly naïve way, picking and choosing and changing and trading and letting go of sounds that don't feel right. The performance was made up of highs and lows. It started out quietly and at first 'only' offering an exceptionally good range of musicians. Having had no expectations, I wasn't deceived like, as I found out later, many others were. There was chattering in the background, people leaving early and probably more than a couple were waiting for songs from his well-known soundtracks. As the night progressed, I found myself captivated, not only by what was happening visually, but also by the new realms that my ears were being introduced to. The 40-year old Frenchman hailing from sea-bound Brittany, the boy who traded his violin for a guitar as an act of rebellion towards his classical training, the shy man speaking little of his private life and muttering only a couple of thank you's in-between songs to the fans – all those were there that night, on stage, merging into a single creature, the Yann Tiersen from Dust Lane.
Dust Lane is a curious place; miles away from the world of Amélie Poulain, it's a little gloomy and, leaving aside one of Yann's preferred instruments – the accordion –, it focuses on building up walls of sound and making them crash. This experience is magnified on stage, where the musicians switch between dense, thick melodies, layers of ukulele, guitar dialogues, and pre-recorded material and minimalism, with single held notes and quiet, irregular rhythms. Little of the joyous and fleetingly melancholic music that made him known world-wide is to be found. Instead, there are harsh choruses, like in “Palestine”, thoughts about illness and death, and whispered vocals – when any. Because Yann Tiersen bothers little with singing – he even sometimes leaves it up to opening act Lonski & Classen in his choir, or to bassist Stéphane Bouvier – he is rather a multi-instrumentalist with guitar and oscillators and, at the peak of his performance, a demon frantically playing the violin, crowned with red and purple lights. “Let's play with sound, forget all knowledge and instrumental skills, and just use instinct – the same way punk did." (Yann Tiersen)