We don’t know if it’s the french red wine, the air, l’amour or simply “la vie en france” that makes this country a cradle of outstanding personalities and artists. Brigitte Bardot – you are an icon. Serge Gainsbourg – we adore you. Michel Gondry – you are a true genious. Yoann Lemoine – well, most might rather know you under the pseudonym of WOODKID, but they would certainly agree that you are the legitimate heir to the throne. Since the release of Iron EP 2011, WOODKID is all over the place. Hardly anyone can be found that does not know the romantic story of the successful video director that found his own musical talent during a video shoot and decided to combine his passions for a musical project. Moreover, Lemoines love for epic and pompous build-ups in music and film definitely hit a nerve, which directly lead to an epic and pompous build-up of his own career.
WOODKID‘s debut album The Golden Age was accompanied by numerous videos, trailers and art pieces – A multilayered and complex product that perfectly expresses the artists aim to combine music, film and storytelling to an all-embracing whole. It follows naturally that live performances might only be a next level for the musician to experiment with his beloved mediums. Here, Lemoine sends his fans to a journey that might only be a glimpse of what is going on in his head, but that is certainly enough.
For the last weeks live gig at the O2 Academy Brixton, WOODKID invited no one less than the BBC Orchestra to backen up his concept. When Lemoine enters the stage, wearing a cap and sneakers, at first he rather looks misplaced in the elegant set up of black-dressed violonists, cello and bass players. But when the drum roll starts, the lasershow begins and the visuals are set, you suddenly feel that it is him all over the place.
The singer starts with the songs The Golden Age and Where I Live, the latter dedicated to his mother, and it is almost odd to experience his soft and mellow voice supported by the impressive beats of numerous drums, while at the same time, his body seems to burst of almost infantine happiness and joy. Between every track, Lemoine interacts with the audience, expressing his great thankfulness, and rather modest admits personal insights (No, he can not sing in french). As the set continues with Ghost Lights and Brooklyn, I experience my first goosebump moment of the show, when WOODKID announces I Love You as a message for all the guys in the crowd.
But it doesn’t matter whether guy or girl, the audience loves WOODKID, and bursts in terriffic applause after each track. Happily, Lemoine announces the melancholical Go, a new song that he has been writing during the tour, before the set gets serious with “I think you know this one” Iron. Followed by Stabat Maker and Run Boy Run, this is certainly the most powerful part of the show. Energetic drums, impressive visuals and a dynamic laser show support the tracks which put the audience in a pretty much hypnotic state of jumps and screams.
After experiencing some of his 2013 festival shows, indeed I was expecting more WOODKID-esque build-ups and musical climaxes like that. At first, I even felt slightly interrupted by the announcements between tracks that could have easily be combined to a bigger and even more epic climax. But then it struck me that this show was much more personal than that. WOODKID stripped down his cocoon of sound and picture for a little while, giving his fans the oppurtunity to experience him as a person of flesh and blood – and at the same time managed to make them part of his story of The Golden Age, a shared experience manifested in everyone’s mind as they walked out of the door. An outstanding performance in this sense, that leaves with nothing to say but: Bravo, and more please.