Far away from home, I found myself in the city of Fribourg, Switzerland with time to kill.
As always when I’m on the move I like to check out the local music scene.
I learned via the www that on the night in question Emilie Zoé would be appearing at a venue called Nouveau Monde (New World).
Over morning coffee I watched a video of a young woman strumming an acoustic guitar and I saw that she had opened for Nick Cave at Montreux in July and has played most of the big European festivals, her only UK appearance seems to have been the 2019 Great Escape festival in Brighton.
‘Go and discover some new music’, a voice in my head told me, as I click the ‘buy’ button.
I arrived at Nouveau Monde early enough to have drink and to catch support band Glaascats, a three piece who set the scene up nicely for what was to come. They played a set which initially featured some Mazzy Star style dream pop and finished up sounding more like a Krautrock version of Pearl Jam.
Eclectic stuff I must concede.
Checking the audience out I was struck by the demographic diversity – all age groups were represented and it was roughly a 50/50 gender split. The sense of anticipation was palpable prior to Emilie Zoé taking to the stage; and to be honest I had no idea what to expect, other than what I’d seen on line, namely this acoustic track I’d looked at earlier in the day.
In fact, it was a two-piece that took to the stage, Emilie and drummer Nicolas Pittet.
It looked to me like a kind of reverse White Stipes but when the music kicked in I was reminded more of Jehnny Beth of Savages fame.
It was powerful, loud, dark fuzzy rock music and I loved it straight from the off.
Lucky for me all of the songs were delivered in English; but the between song banter was in French.
I did pick up that the songs were taken from her latest release ‘Hello Future Me’ and were concentrated on the artists environmental concerns.
Case in point, the title track which opens with the lines
‘It’s a shame that you can’t go back in time,
In the year I live in,
everything’s on fire,
all we do is waiting.’
The song builds to a powerful crescendo and slowly fades out with the repeated line
‘See our houses on the shore,
their stones rise only when the tide is low.’
A dozen backing singers join in the closing refrain – It was haunting stuff and the highlight of a blistering set for me.
The other highlight was when Zoé seamlessly transitioned from a fuzz laden guitar close-out of Apollo; into the gentle acoustic sound of Tidal Waves.
I was hugely impressed.
It was an enthralling performance, rich in meaning, delivered with passion and precession.
It hit me right in the heart.
Before she left the stage she gave her thanks and spoke emotionally (in French).
That was mostly lost on me but had I had the feeling I had witnessed something extraordinary and as I went on my way into the clear Swiss night I was glad I had listened to the voices in my head that morning.