The festival had planned a tribute evening in the presence of many artists who came to share its stage. On arrival, it was a funny evening, the artist having spent most of the show behind the scenes.
A throne in brown wood and red leather, crocodile and rococo style, desperately empty on the stage of the brand new Maison de la culture in Bourges, freshly inaugurated. Was Brigitte Fontaine going to appear? “ suspense, suspense »… In his rocky voice, the artist cleverly maintained the doubt for three days as to whether or not he was present during this « Closing night », which had become, at his express request, a « Fucking night ». No way, she justified herself the day before on the phone, to make this commissioned evening organized by the Printemps de Bourges festival that of her farewell to the stage.
“Nobody knows, not even me. » It was said, repeated, affirmed, to the point that at 12:30 p.m. on D-Day at a press conference, the artists invited to perform on stage alongside him weren’t leading the way. They were however numerous, and of high quality: Bertrand Belin, Béatrice Dalle, Anna Mouglalis, Arthur H, Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern, Rebeka Warrior, P.R2B, M, Jarvis Cocker… all of them came to take over Brigitte Fontaine’s repertoire this Wednesday, April 20 to celebrate the genius of his lifetime during a last evening which was bound to be a little crazy.
It is not so easy to sabotage Brigitte Fontaine
On paper, everything was perfect. A legend of French song, a remarkable set, a peak of emotion. Behind the scenes, it was another story, which the iconoclastic singer intended to take back in hand, once the official communication had passed. “They say that I chose my guests with love. Half maybe. The other, I don’t know them…” she explained. Goodbye tongue-in-cheek, hello fun. On the “knowledge” side, Arthur H of course, the “almost son”, Kervern and Delépine, authors of bite them, a medium-length film in which she was the star, Béatrice Dalle, Jarvis Cocker. On the side of the unknown, all the others… And even Lucie Antunes, musical director of the evening, who had taken her side for a long time without taking umbrage.
All the ingredients for disaster were there. But now, it is not so easy to sabotage Brigitte Fontaine, whose melodies, reminded Lucie Antunes, “are much more complex than they appear”. Especially since “mother superior” dixit Rebeka Warrior, finally pointed his nose. A few minutes at the start of the evening, and for three songs at the very end, accompanied by her faithful and always brilliant guitarist Yan Péchin.
In the meantime, everyone did their best, pretending to occupy a space that Brigitte Fontaine refused to fill for a thousand reasons that were very understandable at her age: severe back pain, a desire to piss people off, anxiety immeasurable in front of this evening which looked like, it is true, to a ” put in Berre “ early, joked Kervern and Delépine, charged at the start of the “staging”.
Moments of grace and approximations
In this game, P.R2B was undoubtedly one of the best. “Hardcore fan” of this “Hardcore Woman”, she said a few hours earlier, she grabbed the classics Eternal (1973) or bitch (1995) with formidable energy and frankness. Just like Bertrand Belin, abandoning his deep crooner voice for the heights of Oh life is beautiful (1997) or offering a duet with Philippe Katerine in a hilarious replica of Influenza (like Fontaine and Higelin in their time). Katerine, decidedly comfortable in the role of Brigitte, later teaming up with Arthur H for This child that I made for you from the same album (Higelin sings Vian and Higelin, 1965).
Did these successes make for a Fucking night? Not totally, fault of Brigitte Fontaine to share them. The singer remained behind the scenes throughout the show. Yes, thanks to the stubbornness of Lucie Antunes, responsible for re-orchestrating everything for months. Surrounded by her musicians, she held from start to finish the thread of an eminently fragile evening where poems alternated with songs, moments of grace with approximations. With percussion, xylophones, long psychedelic tracks, she maintained a link between guests who for some had only met the day before. With the inconvenience, for the sake of efficiency, of standardizing in a rhythmic deluge a music of a mad freedom, but with the advantage of bringing together a troop without tail or head in a final reconciliatory dance, against a backdrop of Nougat comforting.
Printemps de Bourges, until April 24, 2022, in Bourges.