Recorded at the Netherlands' Boerderij in Zoetermeer on 12 December 2016, this DVD showcases the latest live show by the eclectic French fivesome, Lazuli, on their tour to promote their album Nos Âmes Saoules (Our Drunken Souls, 2016, see review). The DVD is also their way of thanking all their friends and fans, who have continued to support them in their droves on their amazing journeys through Europe including with Fish as his support band of choice.
The film has been made by Lazuli, John Vis and Meriam Verkleij and makes full use of the acclaimed sound of the Boerderij to capture the unique dynamics of the band.
The majestic keyboard chords of Romain Thorel accompany Dominique Leonetti's soaring plaintive voice on opener Le Temps Est À La Rage, bringing in Claude Leonetti on his unique sonic box of tricks, the Léode, then Vincent Barnavol on drums and then finally Gėdéric Byar on guitar; what emerges is a performance of stunning musical depth, emotion, intensity, energy and consummate charm.
The highlights come thick and fast, including the incredible Léode-led intro to the foot-stomping Déraille and the nifty switch between instruments by Thorel and Barnavol in the crowd pleasing Le Miroir Aux Alouettes, as well as the close interplay between Claude and Byar.
This is a band which can also mix it up style-wise. There's the contrast between the metallic chords of Âbime and the tinkling soft shoe shuffle of Chausseurs Sur Nos Pieds (Shoes On Our Feet), a song that later explodes into a full-on tour de force.
They are also a band with a conscience, as the insightful Prisonnière D'Une Cellule Mâle (about violence against women) and the raging Le Mar Du Passe (about the rise of the extreme Right in France) eloquently demonstrate.
For sonic dynamics, L'Arbre has it all - Thorel's haunting French horn solo, Barnavol's accompanying marimba and that Léode before, in typical Lazuli fashion, it bursts into a riot of dynamic coloratura sound and rhythm, including Byar running a screwdriver over his guitar fretboard.
Je Te Laisse Ce Monde is a song which Dominique (Domi) sings from the centre of the stage and is dedicated to his son to whom he is bequesting the world with all his hopes, fears and dreams.
For drama, look no further than the light that Domi holds in the palm of his hand during Film D'Aurore while Thorel's spooky keyboards and the wall of sound effect from guitar and Léode elevate the song.
Homo Sapiens is another great rocking tune, incorporating shades of the Beatles' I Am The Walrus. But the epic song of the set is Les Sutures, which starts slowly before Thorel steps forward for a moody French horn solo that cuts through the night. Barnavol then beats out a steady rhythm that Thorel and Domi pick up centre stage as they duet on a solitary snare drum. Be prepared to be emotionally moved by this stunning showpiece.
It's back to the hard rocking, metally Les Malveillants during which Domi and Byar go walkabout in the crowd while that Léode goes into overdrive again.
There's appreciative, continued applause leading up to Nos Âmes Saoules, the lilting title track of their last studio album released last year. The last song, Les Courants Ascendants, is a real barnstormer and has an incredible hook line which Domi continues to improvise, singing along with Thorel's jazzy and sometimes classically inspired keyboard runs and Barnavol's laid-back drums. The audience joins in and there's some wild and wonderful dancing happening on stage.
Finally comes the pièce de resistance as the five of them gather around for a spirited rendition of 9 Hands Around A Marimba, full of high jinks and genial charm that leads into their Heroes tribute to David Bowie.
Also included is the superb artistic video made for Le Lierre and a lavish glossy booklet, full of striking colour photographs of the band during their European live dates last Autumn.
My spies tell me there will be more live dates in 2018 to accompany a new studio album, that will delight the legions of Lazuli fans across the countries. For now, this DVD showcases this exceptional band at their very best. Conversely, if you are still to experience the live Lazuli magic, this DVD available exclusively via the band's website, is the go-to place to begin your journey.
***** Alison Reijman
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