Thursday, 18 February 2010

Pop-in Bar, Paris

The front part of the Pop-in bar on Rue Amelot lived up to its name with a steady flow of people. The music room was in the back, which the audience had to get to via a discrete, unmarked staircase at the back of the upstairs room. It all seemed overly secretive to me - perhaps they've been struggling with over-attendance - but the Denis the barman assured me it wouldn't be a problem.

My co-hosts for the night were The Parisians, a very popular young local act who must have won their name in a local lottery. They were supposed to be opening up for me for some reason, but I opted to play first because I've been burnt many times in the States when the locals kindly offered to play first as their friends and fans had to go early, only for the whole audience to walk out when it came my turn to play. It was obvious that most people had come to see them. The young girls mooned after them, with their good looks and catchy songs.

Obsessive fans are a strange breed. I've never been troubled with them much myself unfortunately, the singer-songwriter (how I hate that term) do not create the same passion as the loud band, because of their abundance or because we are boring. The exception being the young pretty female variety who have a dedicated following of middle-aged lonely single men.

I got chatting to one of The Parisians followers to try to learn their secret. Nita was a 24 year old student from Monacco. She'd lived in America working as an intern for the democrats and studied at the LSE in England and her accent swung like a compass at the equator.
- I was like so amazingly lucky when Alistair Campbell came in and took over from his friend who got sick.
I asked her about her passion for The Parisians and she said they're part of a new Paris sound. They sing in English and sound a lot like the Libertines but I didn't want to rain on her parade.
- Could you introduce me to them? I have to be home early as I'm in trouble with my parents.
I made the introductions, leaving her in the care of their drummer who was unemployed that night as it was an acoustic show. She was still talking to him when I left at 1 o'clock.

I remained in Paris for three days after the show and managed to avoid conversations with anyone for the duration. I roamed the city and explored the cafes. Paris is a paradise for the wanderer. Every

I was taken-aback in every cafe to discover the prices. They charge €2 for a coffee but €4 for tea. Why such prejudice? For hot water and a tea bag. Such savegery. A subtle tax on the English? A deterrent to refinery? One can only imagine the way the barbarians logic works. I never did find out, waiters not being the most communicative people.

My money was running low which added extra bite to the unjust pricing. The well-paying Swiss and Austrian shows seemed quite long ago, and the time off in Spain had eaten into my funds. The Southern Europeans also bought far less CDs, a valuable top-up to my income.

Trying to save money when you're travelling is like trying to stay dry when you're swimming. My hotel room had a small kitchenette and I cooked my own meals. Simple affairs but sustaining.

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