Ville Morte. Wanna talk about the Warrior Kids and Marseille ? Not this time ! Ville Morte x is in fact a nice little information sheet listing the best rock gigs in the city of Lyon. A pretty appropriate name that perfectly fitted this summer holidays time as there was absolutely nothing to check around. The reunification with my friends quickly ended with daily touring of the best pubs in the city (Trokson, Ground Zero…). Specific mention to the Look Bar, with its worthy Lyonnais connexion film noir atmosphere, its deadly White Russian and its outer-space bartender playing deeply worn vinyls of Chuck Berry, Joe Cocker and Georges Brassens.
Exhibition : Lyon, Capitale du Rock. 1978 - 1983.
However, there was this awesome summer exhibition (15th of May to the 21th of September) in the town library: Lyon, Capitale du Rock 1978 - 1983 x
We found there an impressive collection of flyers, posters, tickets, video footages and testimonies, audio listenings, instruments, scene costumes and vinyls of the local bands which brought delight to the Lyonnais rock’n’roll youth in the late 70’s : the Starshooter 77-punkers, the Stooges-like Electric Callas, the Ganafoul hardrockers, the Factory glamy rockers, the funky one in Killdozer or the Carte de Séjour Clashy punks. Each band had its own huge billboard full of informations. The exhibition also strongly focused on the band Marie et les Garçons.They were pretty well-known for their 77 punk hit Je vais t’ébranler un peu x, before they moved on to a more disco-punk sound.
We also followed, step by step, the ephemera story of the Rock’n’Roll Mops gigs’ place: the beginning of the Lyon’s 1978 punk explosion, the growth of this compulsory place for any famous rock band, and the final sabotage by the cultural services of the City Hall which gave a good hand to bring the adventure to an end. A time when rock’n’roll was still un-aseptic, rebel and scary for the bourgeois.
The first part of the exhibition ended in a cosy, tiny video room with pleasant footages of the famous Nuits Rock à Fourvière festival x on the 29th of July 1978 : Starshooter, Ganafoul, Bijou, Téléphone, Little Bob Story and Marie et les Garçons played there in front of an explosive audience (5000 people). Anthological moment when the disco-punk performance of Marie et les Garçons was welcomed by a heavy rain of beers’ tins thrown by bikers white-hotted by Ganafoul. They were literally saved by the backup of the Starshooter and Bijou members on stage.
We then discovered this moving local arty-punk scene which opened on the stage of the ENTPE ingeenering school for many prestigious early 80’s new-wave/post-punk bands such as the Cure, Tuxedomoon, Edith Nylon, Taxi Girl, Orchestral Manoeuvre and even Iggy Pop. The leading Lyonnais bands were African Corps (Kleenex style post-punk), Raison Pure (dandy-punk), Tintin Reporter (B52’s-like rock) or Malevitch Design Theory (arty-punk). Peaceful student atmosphere contrasting with the previous rock episode of course but awesome discoveries !
The exhibition ended with a nice retrospective of unknown but gifted bands : les Illuminés du 08 Décembre, Deux (re-released in 2010 on Minimal Wave Rec.), les Rotters (re-issued on Cameleon Rec. in 2016), Fragile, Safety, les Divines, Tales… and a little layout dealing with some local activists of some radio libre or fanzines. On the top of that, the visitors could leave the place with the pockets full of take-away facsimile tickets of the Rockn’roll Mops shows. A really nice attention !
So, it was a luxuriant and fascinating exhibition. I’ve ever been fond of such exhibits and conferences dealing with the punk & rock scenes in some spotted towns : Reims with the crew of the No Government fanzine a few years ago, Toulouse with the Nineteen team two years ago, the one in the Castle of the Brittany’s Dukes in Nantes last summer, Bordeaux with the "St"wave (Stalag, Stilletos, Strychnine, Standards, STO) last winter. Which city will take up the challenge of a new one ?
Movie : Daniel Darc, Pieces of My Life
As a link with this Lyonnais saga, let’s mention the moving documentary :Daniel Darc, Pieces of My Life, filmed by his close friend Marc Dufaud. Not really the kind of movies that could be found on Reunion Island (perhaps a future Maudit Tangue Picture Show session?), so I was pretty glad to check it in Lyon at the Comoedia, an Art et Essais independent cinema.
Daniel Darc kept on rocking with a solo career. Mainly made with many downs. An accursed poet with a pretty sad life fully filled with unhappy loves, depressive loneliness, continuous fragility, strong drugs’ addictions, hepatisis, deseases, prison, body decadence and unanswered questionnings about his family, his Jewish religion... He finally won a full acknowledgement at the end of his life with some FM rock songs and Bashung-like albums.
Nijinsky x (released in 1994 on Bondage Rec. - Play me Sexy, yeah!) has ever been my favourite tune of the guy - a mid-tempo haunting song with an intense tone in the voice, stunning lyrics, great hovering choirs, catchy clear guitar riffs and such a charming bassist ! He recorded it with the rock band the Pure Sins in the early 90’s. A period during which he really looked fine and seemed to feel good and happy at last. Sadly, a commercial failure followed by a long, unpleasant fall.
This wasn’t a really jovial movie. But it allowed me to glue together all the pieces I had about his life : the Taxi Girl hits, the Nijinsky period, the elusive moment I bumped into this zombie-looking-like guy in the Parisian Born Bad's Keller street, his come-back and his death on the rock’n’roll altar.
Pictures of the exhibition.