Paléo Festival – Nyon – 17-22.07.2012

I’ve been intending to write a post about the Paléo Festival, given that gig reviews have made up a large portion of my posts in the past. Paléo is a six day music and arts festival that takes place in the town of Nyon, mid-way between Geneva and Lausanne. It’s a really nice festival: great food, clean toilets, and lots going on aside from the music. In fact, a lot of people go there each year and don’t watch any music at all. The line-up doesn’t often have artists that are right on the crest of the wave – a lot on the way up, but more often they’re established acts that aren’t as popular as they once were. There are usually a few gems though.

I was there on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this year, meaning that I missed out on Bon Iver, The Cure and Rodrigo y Gabriela, among others. I spent a lot of time wandering from stage to stage and heard a lot of bands that did nothing for me. But there were a few highlights.

On Tuesday night I was blown away by Camille, a French chanteuse who used to sing with Nouvelle Vague. I bought her Music Hole album a few years back but couldn’t get into it at all. I now realise that you have to see her perform live to “get” her. Such amazing energy, a really talented backing band, and some very entertaining songs. The a capella singing was fantastic too. I’ll revist Music Hole to see whether it makes more sense now – and I definitely want to see her live again.

Elsewhere on Tuesday Manu Chao and Franz Ferdinand did their thing. Nothing particularly exciting from either of them, but they kept the crowds entertained.

On Thursday I had been curious to see Sting live for the first time. He didn’t disappoint. It was as smooth a performance as you’d expect from such a talented musician and songwriter. He played plenty of the hits – quite a few Police songs and lots of songs from Ten Summoner’s Tales. All very middle of the road of course, but as I’ve said before, the middle of the road is sometimes where you want to be. I was impressed that he spoke in French throughout the set, which was much appreciated by the crowd. He seemed like a genuinely good guy – warm and funny. I’m glad I had the chance to see him.

Saturday night had a lot of familiar (to me) names, including Garbage, The Kooks and Bloc Party. The latter were the most impressive of these, really getting the crowd in the Chapiteau tent going. I thought I’d enjoy them more myself, but realised as I watched them that I don’t often choose to listen to them and haven’t really gotten into their albums. The Kooks were much more enjoyable for me, if nothing particularly special. Their hits are very catchy and the newer stuff that I didn’t know worked quite well (other than a ridiculous song called something like Do You Want To Make Love  To Me). Garbage were on their first tour after a seven year break. They made a pretty good sound but their newer material didn’t really seem to be hitting home with the crowd.

All in all I didn’t have the impression that it was a vintage year for Paléo. Then again, I’ve missed the last three years, so I’m not well placed to judge that. Hopefully next year’s line-up will deliver a little more interest.