Yann Tiersen's Portland show was a case study in misplaced expectations.
It can be hard, when going to see someone like Tiersen, to know what you're going to get. Yes, he's best known for scoring the adorably-whimsical French film Amélie
using both new compositions and songs from his first three albums. But go to his MySpace, and you hear something completely different—still whimsical, but much more straightforwardly pop, with a noted lack of accordions and vibraphones.
But if you went to the Wonder Ballroom for Tiersen's show on Wednesday, April 29, you caught him in yet another mold—fronting a straightforward rock band and playing some odd amalgamation of indie and spaced-out stoner rock. There was barely an ounce of whimsy to be found, which was much to the crowd's evident confusion.
Portland audiences are know to be, well, still. Maybe they bob their heads, maybe they sway, perhaps there's some foot tapping—but that's usually the limit. Tiersen's crowd barely even had that.
It's not that the performance was bad; the music was perfectly fine for what it was, and the musicianship was impecable. (Tiersen's bassist deserves special props for rocking the hell out
, a rare quality in bassists.) And clearly, a large portion of the audience enjoyed the show. The cheers for an encore were as loud as they ever are (although this reporter had trouble spotting a single person cheering, or even clapping, during the call for the encore in the portion of the 21+ crowd he was standing in). But the cheers for an encore weren't half as loud as the cheers when, 40 minutes into the set, Tiersen put down his electric guitar, picked up a violin, and absolutely shredded it while his band watched from the edges of the stage.
That was, after all, what many of us can come expecting.
Photo courtesy of Yann Tiersen