You know musical roads always lead to other musical roads, well back in the 1980s / 90s I was a massive fan of the French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer and somehow this led me to the French singer who calls herself Robert; these days RoBERT. In some ways RoBERT has eclipsed Mylène for me – good thing, then, that Mylène played that record by Robert on that radio show all those years ago.
I was a fan of Robert in the earlyish days – especially for an English person, I’d say,as she’s not exactly a household name here. Maybe some people noticed her singing and voiceover on a Givenchy Ange ou Démon TV advert in 2009, but I doubt it would have made her known here. And there must have been some kind of attempt at breaking through over here; a UK remixes 12″ of her first single Elle se promène; the 2007 album Princess of Nowhere, with English language versions of songs from the Six pieds sous terre album and various other tracks.
Anyway, why am I telling you this? I don’t know. It’s just that I have found various bits and bobs in my collection dating back to the late 1990s / early 2000s. I was first in touch with Robert in the late 1990s to arrange to do an email / telephone interview with her.
Then I finally made the trip over to Paris to see her in concert in 2000 at the Café de la Danse:
I went back to Paris in 2001 to see her again for a two-nighter at the Café de la Danse – the first evening (30 March) was the pink night and the second evening (31 March) was the blue night.
I did buy some live DVDs after this but there was an 8 year gap from the 2001 concerts to the next one I attended, so I missed out on the Cigale and Haute Couture shows in the 2000s:
I made it back over to Paris to see Robert again in 2009, when I went over to catch the Serge Gainsbourg exhibition at La Cité de la Musique before it finally closed:
It was quite an odd experience – I really enjoyed the music but somehow everything had got “bigger” and therefore it was no longer so intimate. In the eight years that had passed, the prices had gone up from 121 French Francs a ticket to €36,30 and it was all merchandised-up. I had invested in one of the limited edition Mathieu Saladin (Robert’s husband) books, Robert des Non-Dits – I got book number 120 / 400. In all, it was a pretty expensive affair. Still, I guess everyone has to make a living.
Back to the concert, like I say the music was great but the problem for me was that the audience had got a lot younger and less cultured – I was trodden on in the queue by a goth in clodhoppers and had to tell him off in French (it’s really strange being angry in another language!) and he was most unapologetic. Quite frankly, at the risk of alienating a lot of RoBERT fans, I wasn’t too keen on the goth element and there seemed to be a lot of them there.
I also didn’t enjoy sitting so far away – row J seemed like a million miles away from the stage. I haven’t been back to Paris to see Robert since then although I still buy and very much enjoy the albums. Maybe I am just getting old. I am getting old.
O well, I shall write an article about Robert – or should I say RoBERT? – shortly to explain the Robert, Princesse de rien myth in more detail. In the meantime, here are a few photographs sent to me back in the early 2000s, not sure quite when, by a French friend. This is from an appearance Robert made with Mathieu Saladin at a FNAC store: