Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Si’s Sights And Sounds recently visited Belfast's Mandela Hall to watch French musician Anthony Gonzalez take everyone on a sonic journey through the ages...

The stage is set for a really creepy discotheque when Anthony Gonzalez strolls into the Mandela Hall dressed like an alien, amidst a rather psychedelic atmosphere. It’s hard to tell whether the French musician and his band, M83 - named not after a motorway, but a spiral galaxy - are genuinely weird or just playing at being weird, but, either way, they’re already making an impression.

Such an impression continues throughout their first two numbers, with both band and crowd really letting themselves go in the heavy indie rave music and strobe lighting. The lyrics seem almost completely irrelevant, as Gonzalez, clearly relishing his return to the Belfast stage after an absence of four years, transmits his excitable nature around the stage and onto what’s starting to resemble a dance floor.

From Rammstein to Trainspotting to the 1980’s without the cheese, M83’s music is like a sonic journey through the ages. Be it techno, ambient, carefree or chilled, this is a soundtrack that’s very easy to dance to. It’s the kind of thing that you’re likely to see at festivals for months, a rhythm worthy of the setting.

It’s exceptionally loud too, with everyone’s ears getting a thorough workout from both the instrumentals - especially Loïc Maurin’s drumming - and the applause. If, by the gig’s closing moments, it’s all becoming a little wearing and repetitive, I suppose that’s the nature of the beast. And there’s still time for a rather lovely sax solo, a lusty Dire Straits-esque riff, and the band’s signature tune, “Midnight City” to be heard.

As talented as Anthony Gonzalez and his ensemble are, however, it’s uncertain if M83’s brooding, raving brand of “indietronica” will guarantee much more than a niche audience on these shores. On the other hand, even the bar staff in the Mandela Hall were bopping away to “Midnight City”, so what do I know?