Better late than never… it’s about time we reviewed the first ever Édition Festival, in Marseille, South of France. It was a sun-drenched event with great vibes, with 4 quirky events which took place in some exceptional locations.
DAY 1 – CERCLE DES NAGEURS
The thing that struck us most at first was definitely the secret locations used, which didn’t appear to be known by the tourists (or even the locals!). The Cercle des Nageurs, where high level swimmers come to train, was very hidden from the public eye. Sadly we didn’t get to swim in the pool, but the festival-goers still had a great opening night with some big names.
We made our way there straight off the train from the Gare Saint Charles with no time to lose. When we arrived, experimental duo Nguzunguzu were on. It was time (of course) for a vodka and strawberry and a booty shake before French 79 came on stage for an electrifying live performance, with awesome synths, sensual vocals, and fantastic production. They aren’t particularly big yet, but it was the perfect chance to discover this fresh young talent live. It was well-received by the public, too, so this artist is definitely one to watch.
After French 79, the much-awaited Para One took over, and it’s safe to say that this guy knows how to work the stage. After a nicely managed intro progression, he moved into steady beats that came faster and faster, harder and harder, and oh, oui, harder! Para One knew how to charm the Marseillaise public, especially with Oliver S’ track, « Doin’ Ya Thing ». There was an open-shirted, older crowd nearer the back, and a hyped up younger crowd at the front, and Para One‘s performance brought the two together perfectly, bringing everyone into his universe. We wanted to stay there all night!
And the end of the set took us to a whole new world! From Carte Blanche‘s « Gare du Nord » (Riton and Medhi) to Daft Punk‘s « Rollin & Scratchin », we literally felt beaten up by the end. The seaside dream came to an end at about 1am, and it was time to head back for the night.
DAY 2 –
Rooftop / Dock des Suds
The météo was not kind to us that night, so we were bitterly disappointed to miss the rooftop experience that we’d been looking forward to… A 2000 m2 terrace under the open sky, right by the sea… But we still spent our second evening in style in one of the rooms at Dock des Suds, with Daniel Avery and John Talabot – I can think of worse people to go on a night out with! Our alcohol intake rose at an alarming rate, so all we have of this night are vague flashbacks of happiness, laughs, and smiles all round.
DAY 3 – Théâtre Silvain
For the third day, the sun came out again which was a good thing because Marseille without sun felt pretty damn weird. It was the perfect weather to enjoy the day at the Théâtre Silvain, a magical and legendary amphitheatre hidden in the rocks, with an exceptional acoustic unique to its natural setting. Pretty exciting as you can tell!
On the menu: a series of performances by emerging artists, bigger talents and an experimental come-back.
Everything kicked off with Marseille born-and-bred Martin Mey: a drummer, bassist/keyboard and singer (Martin) lineup. They had worked out some good vocal effects combined with a sampling pedal, and the performance was rich, fresh and mixed up a slick and delicate mix of pop and rock. The musicians in his band were really talented and got us going for the next concert by the twins everyone’s talking about: Ibeyi!
From the first notes, the mystical sisters Lisa-Kaindé & Naomi Diaz floored us with their beauty and charisma. The introduction to their performance was based on an a-capelle during which they took a moment to explain their origins and that of their music. With a French/Cubain parentage, a lot of their inspiration comes from Cuban culture, and they explained that they also have roots within a people of Nigeria called the Yoroba.
One thing we especially enjoyed was how close they were to the audience, putting each song into a context. For example, one of them was written to honour a goddess who dances on tombs, another to honour their big sister, their mother or the twins themselves (called ‘Ibeyi’ in the Yoruba language). One sings and the other is at the keyboard, or the other is doing percussions and sampling, and they gave us a truly live performance intercut with these beautiful breaks of a-capella mixed with stories from their past. It was a performance that was all about sharing and interracting with the audience. The high poing was the finale when they sang the song most people know by now, « River », which the audience sang along to.
To top it all off, the performance was accompanied by a balletic dance of swallows around the stage, who looped and swopped just above the canopy, with their movements strangely seemingly co-ordinated with the music… funny, it was like a Disneyfied charm. The experimental comeback we mentioned about was the famous Neneh Cherry who got together with the ROCKETNUMBERNINE duo, made up of the two brothers Tom and Ben Page. The audience really enjoyed the nearly hip-hop intro with a tribal sound too. Nineh was really on form, up to her level and supported by what can only be called a fan club who had come en masse! We filmed a little video of her dancing just for fun.
Half an hour before the end, a massive storm came and drenched the theatre but they managed to keep the show on – kudos. The entire staff got involved to protect the drumkit because Neneh Cherry hadn’t finished yet! Oh no! And they managed to make everyone forget the rain. More kudos!
We didn’t get to go to the cocktail party on the boat on Sunday… have to come back next year then! What has really stayed with us over the past few weeks is the opening with Para One and French 79 at the Cercle des Nageurs as well as the performances by Martin Mey, Ibeyi the enchantresses, and Neneh Cherry, the champion. A huge ‘thank you’ is in order to the organisers for these fantastic memories. See you next year! Cheers!