by Martin Gutierrez
The saying goes: “The French do it better.” Well, French duo Polo & Pan definitely do. Their sold out night at Brighton Music Hall was a demonstration of the emotional power behind their joyous, tropical-infused electronica.
The night was all about the “French touch.” It felt as if I was back in Europe; I could hear people speaking elegantly in French while having their drinks just before the duo appeared on stage. Paul Armand-Delille and Alexandre Grynszpan showed up waving their hands to the cheerful crowd and got right to it. Their successful debut album Caravelle begins with the trippy and playful intro ‘Abysse,’ which also inaugurated their elaborate set. The track starts with random sweeps and bell sounds that build up into a melodic piece. It is great when artists make this approach of enclosing the crowd with a beat-less intro; it is a way of saying “we are here, welcome to our world.” With the attendants bewitched, Polo & Pan continued with ‘Aqualand’ which gave way to solid beats and dreamy vocals. People seemed to be forgetting their troubles, hips swaying and arms high in the air.
There is a reason why a hit is a hit; why some songs are more popular than others. The duo’s debut album had several, and to listen to them live was very special. When the French started playing the guitar sample of the bossa-nova melody with which ‘Canopée’ starts with, I understood that this was undoubtedly the most anticipated song in the set. The downtempo groove and captivating female vocals make this a captivating track, and the great soundscape in Brighton Music Hall made it even more entrancing. The super catchy ‘Nana’ was another great moment: Polo & Pan sampled the vocals in this track from a song from Brazilian band Os Tincoãs, and created a romantic masterpiece out of it. Even though these two songs were certainly the highlights of the night for the crowd, it is worth mentioning the effect that ‘Rivolta,’ their debut single, had in the overall presentation. It is an upbeat song with a grungy bass-line that made everyone dance like crazy since it began. The great thing about the song is the drop in the middle, where the speed of the song starts decreasing gradually. Once the beat drops, the song becomes a downtempo track with a whole new vibe. The reaction this change had on the crowd was precious. Some cheered, some screamed, and some danced with their eyes closed.
Polo & Pan didn’t say much during their performance. It seems they know pretty well that their music does all the talking. Still, it is necessary to point out that for it to be a live performance, it surely needed more live music making. They sing from time to time and use their synths and drum machine, but the use of samples and DJing was most of the performance. Their original recordings are full of clever melodies and drum-work, which would’ve have been great to see them do some of that right there on the spot. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful night both for the crowd and the French duo. If after reading this you’re interested in hearing some of their music, do check out their album Caravelle as well as their live performance for Cercle in Paris.