This was a special gig. Tété is a French musician, of Senegalese extraction, who has had a few hits in French-speaking countries with his clever and catchy acoustic pop songs. He has four or five albums under his belt and is currently working on a new one. As a means of trying out some ideas and recapturing the spirit of his early days busking in bars, he’s doing a tour “solo sans sono“.
He turned up at La Datcha, an unpretentious cross between a warehouse and a café on the edge of the Flon district in Lausanne, with three acoustic guitars and not a lot else. He unpacked his guitars and proceeded to play a set of about 90 minutes entirely unamplified. I guess there were around 150 or so people (just 15 CHF for a ticket – bargain!) in a room the size of a big-ish pub, but he easily held our attention with his stories and songs, his warm personality and humour, his dexterous playing and his big voice, full of character.
He made it clear that people could take as many photos as they wanted, but no videos were allowed. The cake – his forthcoming album – has not yet been baked, he said, but we shouldn’t worry as the cake mixture often tastes better than the cake itself. Certainly the first handful of songs he played were really good. They felt very much like classic French chanson to me, with flowing melodies and the usual intricate lyrics. (My friend Marc, who introduced me to Tété some years ago, says his lyrics are difficult for natives speakers to pick up, so I shouldn’t feel so bad if I only decipher bits and pieces here and there.)
He also played a bunch of more familiar songs, with plenty of opportunities for vocal participation from the audience, and finished the evening playing the Rhianna and Kanye West song FourFiveSeconds standing on the bar. The covers he did were probably the weakest parts of the set, but it was a great end to a really wonderful evening of music.
Here’s a nice example of him playing solo acoustic:
And this is probably my favourite of his songs, the opening one from the album Le Sacré des Lemmings.