quarta-feira, novembro 14, 2007

Initials B.B. at Botanique, Brussels.

(by Jan Hiddink)

So there he is. Benjamin Biolay. Benjamin is behind the grand piano, his band is aside to him. Drums, keyboards / electronics, guitar, bass, and a separate microphone waiting. Four men and a girl, surrounded by cardboard figures of American basketball players.
We have no clue why these cardboard figures are there. And we don’t know who the musicians are, as we are supposed to. There can be no doubt about who we are here for. All of the stagelightning and setup is designed for one man only: Benjamin Biolay. His initials B.B.

B.B. might be the centre of the world, here in the Orangerie of the beautiful Botanique in Brussels, yet the first thing that comes to mind is that B.B. does not look too good –if not worrying bad. As with Gainsbourg, nicotine and alcohol come with the appearance of the singer.
Not that our man seems to be suffering from that. Watching Benjamin Biolay is an amazing experience. You notice how he is at ease with crowds – probably way bigger crowds than the 500 something that are packing the Orangerie tonight. If we were 5 thousand, it would not have make a difference to B.B., I’m getting the impression. He’s been around. He’s not impressed. He’s doing a job and makes sure to do it well. He’s singing, playing the guitar, playing the piano, playing the trumpet, walking around, clapping –being busy, being at work. He might even do titbits of smalltalk and jokes in between his wonderful songs of redemption and seduction.
His band is without the slightest misstake. With ease and experience, they play the music for Benjamin, in a more than two hours long set that jumps back and forth through the oeuvre of Biolay. Only the girl singer –the kind of appearance you could only hope for- seems to be struggling with her part. Yet at the same time, she perfectly lives up to the clumsiness that’s inherent of being a true zuchtmeisje.

The crowd, most french-spoken, aging from 18 to 68, loves it. This despite the fact that there’s no bar, no smoking and that arms and legs of strangers get in each others way, as there are too many people in Orangerie, filling the place up to it’s darkest corners.
No smoking? Not completely. One man is smoking. One cigarette after the other. One man on stage, in the spotlight, at the centre of everything that is happening tonight. Songs to sing and cigarettes to smoke might be the only true companions he has. The band is serving him. The audience is adoring him. Yet B.B. is alone, a singer on his own, with no place else but the stage to go. Benjamin Biolay. No matter what, il reste negatif.


Anonymous Maks said...

Pretty cool review, Jan. I'm getting visions of slightly dirty and smokey bars way after midnight in The Marais, while reading it. And though reality was a bit different it made me wish I would have been there too.

10:03 AM  

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