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Jeanne Cherhal at Bataclan

Cherhal8586bpt6 Text: Brendain Seibel

When Jeanne Cherhal burst onto the music scene a decade ago she had already perfected enfant terrible persona. Embodying the middle class, parochial ideal her unhinged presence behind the keys must have shocked early audiences, exacting an unattributed revenge through musical tantrums. Her debut album, a live recording, perfectly revealed the intelligence and passion of a young prodigy, skillfully playing her admirers for laughs and applause.

By the release of her first studio album Cherhal had either tired of being packaged as a precocious cabaret brat or was dragged into the corporate image machine. Backed by a band and relying on light pop-rock structures the Nantes artist seemed consumed with distancing herself from the prancing pianist who had formerly inhabited her skin. Tongue-twisting, breathless rants percolated from time to time, but deft artistry was buried in radio-friendly ditties. Sophisticated jazz licks across the ivories could not save her from makeovers and press junkets. The only signs of life slumbering beneath the klieg lights and powder were live appearances where, although playing stripped down renditions of her pop-tart flirtations, a little fire remained burning.

Gearing up for a nationwide tour to market her latest album, Charade, it will be interesting to see which direction Cherhal heads. A great deal is being made of the previous year's isolation working on this release; songs were written during a period of travel and all the instruments were recorded by her. It certainly seems as though an attempt at redefinition is taking place, but does Cherhal know who she is? The lead single En Toute Amitié is a bouncy number suffering echoes of 60's pop, but her lead video Mon Corps est Une Cage appears to be an intentional attempt at personal deconstruction.

In lesser hands the album and tour of a musician's identity crisis should elicit no attention, but Jeanne Cherhal is no ordinary act. Through the ups and downs, stylistic reactions and experiments, there remains the caustic wit and fiery passion which once savaged the piano and audience alike. It remains to be seen if this current incarnation, complete with backing band, will find its footing or if it's back to the drawing board.

Jeanne Cherhal
March 9, 2010 at 7:30pm
Tickets €26,40
Le Bataclan
50 Boulevard Voltaire
Mº Oberkampf

Bonapart Paris apartments

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