Thursday, July 25, 2013
The highlight was the Barzaz concert in the theatre last night, for which I had a precious ticket. This seminal group (with the best chanteur in Brittany, Yann-Fanch Kemener) had enormous success in the late 80s/early 90s and recorded two albums before splitting up. This year they have reunited for a 25th anniversary series of concerts. I've only ever heard them on disc before but they are truly scintillating on stage, such depth of musicianship and the compelling voice of Kemener always driving the gwerziou. This is not world sound, not Celtic fusion, not fuzzy folk - this is Breton music in a pure tradition.
After the concert, I walked back through the centre at nearly midnight, head fizzing with excitement. But what struck me was the good order that still holds in Brittany. This is a huge festival and no-one was drunk or loud, the streets were calm, and cheerful goodnights came from all I passed. In Place St-Corentin there were still a few hundred people of all ages dancing in the round to the rhythm set by a pair of sonneurs on the stage. Everyone was happy. Such is life here.
Monday, July 15, 2013
The city itself is full of visual jokes - like the 'grey men' of bureaucracy - and surprises, many with light effects designed to be viewed after dark, like the Nymphea by Corsican artist Ange Leccia. A permanent fun piece on the 32nd storey of the Tour de Bretagne 70s tower block is Le Nid, where the eponymous nest is a bar and the elongated white bird encloses broken egg tables and stools.
Nantes is a dynamic place at any time of year, but it's positively sizzling in this July heat. I came home exhausted, overloaded with art and ideas. Good excuse for a rare day off work today.
Thursday, July 04, 2013
I tried to respond to all this in a format that was cheap, attractive to look at and easy to handle - something that any visitor would think worth a 5 euro punt. As well as the walking maps, which at last enable people to make their own circuits, there's a good town map with facilities shown as well as sights/sites.
I'm very grateful to Red Dog Books for agreeing to publish it and my good friend Monique Le Bouhellec for her translation of my original text, and her ability to reconcile the completely different styles of the two languages for this type of production. Having a separate French edition has proved a successful gambit and one I hope to repeat next year for a different location.