Yann Tiersen, forever the scrawny French accordionist in my mind, played at the Regency Ballroom on Tuesday night and I couldn’t have been more surprised by what I saw. No longer the unassuming solo virtuosic performer, Tiersen has grown into the frontman of a full on rock band.
His quirky, magical sense of effortless talent on the violin and accordion are completely buried in his new sound and it seems to be leaving his fans lost in the wake.
Most people know of Tiersen as the man behind the music in the film Amelie . I’ll admit, I went to the concert expecting that same playful and quintessential French music, but it’s obvious that he’s trying to get as far away from his old sound as possible. Tiersen’s current band has five members — a guitarist, bassist, drummer, and someone on a synthesizer. Tiersen bounced around from lead guitar, melodica, mandolin, and synth, but the crowd was always most receptive when he played violin (of which there was too little).
They played songs from his newest album Dust Lane which is a nod in the digital direction. There were a lot of extra effects and layers thrown into the mix, and it was an evening worlds away from Amelie. The complete fifty-five minute set was loud and full of extra sound elements. A couple moments stood out when everything died down enough for a violin solo to come through, or a hauntingly beautiful four-part harmony, but the moments were few and far between.
I know that some musicians test to push the comfort zones of their fan base and that they constantly feel a need to reinvent themselves, but when someone with the raw talent of Tiersen comes along, it’s disappointing to see them hide their abilities behind a wall of noise. Overall it was a solid performance, but I walked away feeling that he’s capable of so much more.