On Monday night, the first of a five-night run at the Parisian venue before the end of the month, Stromae showed himself to be a cheeky comedian, a nimble dancer and an amazing entertainer, turning Bercy into a heaving dancefloor. He has been on the road for over a year now, touring mainly in Europe, but also in North America. The lanky Belgian singer, now used to performing in front of excited spectators at sold-out gigs, was on top form, rewarding the Bercy audience with his inimitable hip-swaying action and selection of jokey “jibes” inbetween songs.
After the show opened with a cartoon introducing him, Stromae quietly came up from the back of the stage, wearing a black-and-white vest and bow tie over a perfectly-buttoned white shirt. The heady tune “Ta fête” soon kicked off a party that was to last more than two hours.
Supported by a quartet dressed in the same vest and bowler hats, the Belgian artist strode across the gigantic Bercy stage, with visibly no stage fright whatsoever despite the baptism of fire of this 17,000-seat venue.
“Tous les mêmes”, “Ave Cesaria”, “Sommeil” : he sang all the hits from his “Racine carrée” album – a mixture of rap, electroacoustic music and French chanson – song after song at a hellish pace. And all this with, according to Stromae, a broken toe! He even displayed his X-ray onto a giant screen for the sceptics among the audience to check out!
“A song without a great beat is a bit like Laurel without Hardy,” says the singer. He was occasionally accompanied by a virtual army of dancers on the giant screen and an amazing light show.
Every one of Stromae’s pieces was like a mini play: “Quand c’est” showed him seemingly struggling with a monster’s claws, symbolising him being in the grip of disease; in “Formidable”, an intoxicated lament, he declaimeds his lyrics with passion, in a manner worthy of the great Jacques Brel, whom this child of rap music was once compared to; in “Papaoutai”, he delivered something completely different, starting his tune while he stood as still as the wax statue of himself he recently unveiled at the Musée Grévin, in Paris.
Stromae rounded off his first night by giving profuse thanks to his technicians, musicians, tour manager and record label. He will be back at Bercy at the end of the month, performing at the venue again from November 27th-30th.
By mid-December, the Belgian singer, featured on the original soundtrack of the upcoming “Hunger Games” movie due to be released next Wednesday, is also expected to perform in Rennes and in several European capitals.