'Black Session', France Inter, Paris - March 9, 1999
Review taken from "Electric Light" thanks to Mélanie Fazi
There were obviously quite a few fans among the audience, judging by their reactions when the band walked on stage. As far as I can remember, few bands were ever greeted so warmly at a Black Session. Tom Barman said a few words in French, as he would do before every single song, then the band started off with a brand new number called Sister Dew, followed by another new song, Instant Street, which he presented as the first single. Most of the songs they performed during the Session (seven out of ten, more precisely) were taken from the forthcoming album, which is not the easiest thing to do for a band. It's quite easy to warm up the audience by playing hits and classics, but presenting them with songs they've never heard is always a bit tricky. The crowd turned out to be as enthusiastic about the songs as you could hope. Especially given the circumstances (studio 105 is not exactly the kind of scenery which makes you want to party all night).
It's always difficult to describe the general atmosphere of a concert when you don't know the songs you're writing about. But the new material was catchy enough from the very first time. Nice melodies, rather pop-oriented, sometimes reminiscent of some songs from the previous album, In A Bar, Under The Sea (a real gem, in my humble opinion). Think of Little Arithmetics for example: a lovely melody ending up as a complete sonic mess. Quite representative of dEUS's deconstructive approach: any of their songs contains enough material to write four different songs for any other band. The method seemed more subtle in these new songs, but the dEUS spirit was always there, lurking from some hidden corner.
The show also had some kind of messy quality which made it often unpredictable, with Tom speaking French, Dutch and English at turns, yelling at violin player Klaas Janzoons every five minutes, with new member Tim Vanhamel acting like he had just fled from some looney bin. Anyone who has ever attended an Ultrasound show will understand what I mean. Except for the music, of course. An Ultrasound show is fun to watch as long as you don't pay attention to the "music".
Excellent as it was, the show couldn't be perfect without some good oldies to remind you of why you worship dEUS in the first place. "Now we're going to perform an old song", said Tom Barman, and this number started with a sample which made everyone straighten up in their seats. "This is not my philosophy, my philosophy... You got to be your own dog..." The very beginning from instant classic Fell Off The Floor Man (from the second album). One of the most intense dEUS songs, one of the most typical too, with its non-sensical lyrics, catchy melody and ear-bursting guitar parts. It seems that even Tom Barman and Craig Ward, who sang the lyrics in turns, were unable to remember them in the correct order. Mind you, they don't seem to mean anything at all, whichever way you take them:
Rubbadub a tub fish (ping pong)
Sneaking in the dead zone (boneyard)
Sipping on a catlap (sing song)
Trimming off my nostril hair (headcase)...
If anyone has an idea (even a vague one) about the meaning of this text, please don't hesitate to drop a mail.
Later came Roses with its obsessing chorus (Thank you for the roses, for the roses...), just perfect to end the gig. We knew it had to be the last song, because this is the kind of thing which bands always keep for the end, to build a climax before they leave the stage. You know, the kind of song which leaves you drained and empty, but happy and eternally grateful. The kind of song which makes you yell for an encore until you have no voice left to shout. The only time I saw the audience going wild like this at a Black Session was for Yo La Tengo, in December 1997 (the only show which ever made us forget that this was not a real concert, only a radio session). They just couldn't refuse to come back, could they? So they were back on stage three minutes later.
Tom did the talking as usual. He really has a great attitude on stage and a good deal of charisma. "We're going to do a cover of Alain Souchon", he announced, and actually I'd never noticed that he looked a bit like him (never mind if you've never heard of Alain Souchon, you're not missing anything). But instead the musicians began to play the intro from dEUS's ultimate classic Suds & Soda, what a blissful surprise. An unmistakable intro with this haunting violin sound going on and on like a scratched record. But the song only started two minutes later: while Tom was struggling with the capo of his guitar ("I've been traumatized by these things", he explained), the others just went on, waiting for him to join them. Their rendition of Suds & Soda was simply perfect, as thrilling as if we had not heard it 10,000 times. This was to be the only encore and the show ended after only 45 minutes. Before they left for good, Tom Barman couldn't help but advertising their next show in Paris, which is planned for June. And it was all over. When we left the studio, even the skeptics among the audience (I know there were some) seemed ready to convert to the cult of dEUS. I wouldn't be surprized to meet them at the concert. Some bands just have a trick to turn you at once into faithful worshippers. Don't forget the band's name is dEUS.