Here’s hoping a certain Icelandic volcano behaves itself this week because State is set to travel to the French town of Clermont-Ferrand for the fifth edition of Europavox. The festival is based around a city centre venue called La CoopÃ©rative de Mai and augmented by Spiegel Tents in an adjoining park, while behind the scenes there are facilities for industry types from across Europe to meet and network. Its relaxed atmosphere, friendly crowds and the intimate nature of the performances made it one of our highlights of last year’s festival season and 2010 is looking set to be just as good. Here are some of the acts State is hoping to catch in action:
With his personal troubles generating more column inches than his music these days it’s easy to overlook Pete (or Peter as he now likes to be known) Doherty’s exceptional talent as a songwriter. His exploits with The Libertines and Babyshambles are well documented but it’s his solo offering, last year’s Grace/Wastelands LP, which finally offered a glimpse at the true extent of his genius. That, combined with the unpredictable nature of his live shows – brilliant and shambolic in equal measures – ensure that his set at Europavox is one we definately don’t want to miss.
“Prolific” is a word that comes to mind when summing-up Richard Hawley’s musical exploits. Apart from stints with Britpop acts Longpigs and Pulp, Hawley has always kept himself busy collaborating with an eclectic assortment of artists, with his guitar-playing and unmistakable voice finding their way onto recordings by the likes of Hank Marvin, The Arctic Monkeys and, more recently, Lisa Marie Presley. It’s his own material that will no doubt fill the majority of his Europavox setlist and with no less than six solo albums to his name, including 2009’s excellent Truelove’s Gutter, there’ll be plenty for him to choose from.
Unknown Pleasures: Joy Division Tribute with Peter Hook
To mark the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death, Peter Hook will perform Joy Division’s first record, Unknown Pleasures, live in its entirety and sequentially. And since he’s now estranged from the other band members, he’s gathered together another group of musicians to help him out. There’s no doubting it’s an intriguing prospect but it remains to be seen whether it’ll actually work.
Appearing on the same stage as Pete (sorry, Peter) Doherty will hold some significance for Les Plastiscines; they formed after meeting at a Libertines gig in Paris. The all-female group have a reputation for delivering their garage rock noise in short, sharp bursts – a trait that’s glaringly evident on their first album, LP1, where no track exceeded the three minute mark. They’ve widened their appeal beyond French shores with their second effort, About Love, scoring airplay around these parts with ‘Barcelona’ while several other tracks have featured on American TV shows. Having enjoyed a fiesty performance from Les Plastiscines in Andrew’s Lane Theatre a couple of years ago, we’re hoping they deliver the goods again.
The quality of last year’s Eye Spy EP was enough to persuade State to name Funeral Suits as one of our ‘Faces of 2010’ and it would seem we weren’t the only ones taken in, with big-time producer Stephen Street coming on board to oversee recording of their first long-player after hearing it. And yes, the first cuts from those sessions are sounding very tasty indeed. The Dublin/Limerick trio’s energetic performances are also earning them a formidable reputation as a live act, which they’ll be unleashing on a French audience for the first time.
Rachid Taha featuring Mick Jones
Rachid Taha specialises in taking traditional Arabian raÃ¯ music and fusing it with rock and punk. He’s also been known to reverse the process and add a Middle Eastern tinge to Western punk songs, including The Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’. It’s brought him success throughout the Arab world and has lead to him performing alongside Rober Plant, Patti Smith and Brian Eno. Joining Taha on stage at Europavox will be former Clash guitarist Mick Jones, which should make the set something of an intercontinental punk mash-up.
Band of Skulls
There may not have been much fuss made about their album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey upon its release, but Band of Skulls soon found themselves thrust into the spotlight when their song ‘Friends’ was included on the soundtrack to Twilight: New Moon. They’re still some way off superstardom but there’s no denying the quality of their bluesy garage rock.
When State visited Clermont-Ferrand last year we were impressed by the quality of the local talent. We stumbled across Mr NÃ´ when he played an early set and his fine brand of chunky French electro really set us up for the evening. He’s back again this year with a late night slot and an expanded arsenal of tunes, which should mean plenty of pounding beats, glowsticks and 3D glasses!