We don’t go into la Closerie des Lilas. We pass by the front, we see some rich and paunchy people on the terrace meticulously protected by a wall of greenery, we smell the perfume of the oysters, but we don’t go in. Someday, we’ll have the occasion to go in—a family reunion organized by a wealthy old aunt, maybe. Or we’ll be invited to talk logistics of a festival, and spend the entire afternoon on the covered terrace. This was the case for Moon, who had just gotten back from Tanzania, and found himself wedged there, at la Closerie. He would go in, for the first time, to film the Icelanders.
For me, the equation is as follows: the band is staying at the Kube hotel, north of Paris; their equipment is at porte de la Villette; Moon and his camera are wedged at la Closerie, in the south of Paris; and, obviously, Sigur Ros are playing at Zénith this very evening. We only have a little time.
The first person passed by, and this guy will leave us with the best memories— he’s John Best, their manager. A 50-something English man in all his splendor, ‘70s glasses, classic raincoat, beige scarf and classy mustache. He makes us forget about the long saga of the sick bassist, about the rest of the band who’re fading fast.
We bought a bucket at a bazaar in a side-street, and we decided not to bother pulling out the costumes. We moved some tables to set up a splendid harmonium, we took over the piano, and everything seemed ready… the only thing missing was two drummer’s brushes, which weren’t in the van. Some guy had to go back to Villette to look for them.
While we wait, we ask the group in vain to play a few other songs in the mean time–any song that doesn’t need the brushes. They decline.As John reminds us, they’ve never done anything like this before—they usually don’t perform acoustic. We just have to wait, and not add to the looming pressure of tonight’s huge concert.
Still waiting, we rummage around la Closerie. We chat with elegant old couples, we watch from afar as a fat businessman absentmindedly strokes the hair of a girl 20 years his junior, and we let ourselves be cradled by the incessant waltz of guys in vests running and pivoting with their plates filled to the brim.
Little by little the room empties, the remaining diners drag out the final moments of their lunch, and then the drumsticks arrive. The environment is tense, but they jump in. A few notes on the harmonium, and an incredible voice that it would have been a shame to exhaust. We don’t know if the sticks were essential. But in three minutes, our patience was repaid.
Translated by Caitlin Caven