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Concerts à emporter

Bertrand Belin

Choosing the artists we’d like to film is, obviously, a question of love and affection. We have told you this often enough, through these small descriptions of encounters and endeavours. It’s also a question of imagination. You have to imagine this or that person amongst the city’s noise, a sidewalk, a café or the roaring wind; you have to imagine their reactions to the external. Most of the time, we don’t know our subjects well. Sometimes, although rarely, we start out with an idea in mind. With Bertrand Belin, we thought that we knew what was coming.

To be more precise, I had some doubts. Hypernuit , although an incredible album, is not always the easiest listen. The songs can come across as dry. Its tempo is interminably slow – just to the point where it’s imaginable that ears caught unawares could confuse his slow pace with monotony. As singer, he is certainly a bit of a dandy, but a self-effacing dandy. Would the Parisian streets plunge themselves into hypernight just hearing his voice? Would the café tables notice that everything had changed? Would we and the asphalt remember the heat left by the horses of old?

I don’t know if Bertrand Belin is particularly proud of his last album. I don’t know if he carries it with more confidence than its predecessors. What I do know is that this dandy surprised us. He was so sure of himself that nothing could resist him. I have never seen a singer take on the city with as much vigor, especially with such quiet songs. When ordinary passerby would wander around us, interested, he would look at them directly, right in the eyes, commanding their attention. Plainly, impolitely. One, infuriated, passed us by, waiting until he thought he was out of earshot to spurt out “What pretention!”

There is, evidently, none of that here. We talked about a café occupied by elderly Turks playing cards. Belin himself went in to negotiate a short improvised concert. We thought about the passage Brady and, despite our repeated failures, gave it one more shot. Bertrand, again, met no resistance with his music. He didn’t impose on anyone. As you can see, the musician and his two accomplices, on cellos, welcomed everything with open arms. He maneuvered like a wild dancer. Bertrand Belin’s songs did better than make the best of the situation. They played with it. And with us as well.

As we left, the last words sung rang in our ears. While we were packing up, Bertrand Belin sang “Tombé pour la France” (“Fallen for France”), accompanied only by his guitar. It was funny, as much as some of his lyrics are direct, this was far from being anything more than farce. “Ce sera bien” (“It’ll be fine”), the words we took away from the evening.

The second film is coming soon

Translated by Tara Dominguez