That’s the danger of going to the same festivals every year with many of them rotating the same line-up: as fun as your weekend may be, there will often be less room for the element of surprise. To our great relief, the closing day of the relatively humble Festival Beauregard in France (with its bafflingly diverse line-up and vibe-for-all-needs approach), its standing as an unknown quantity loaded with subtle revelations turns out to be its greatest virtue.
Take France’s own Rendez Vous. Playing a stirring afternoon set, they have that look of a rag-tag, mismatch band of art-school vagabonds. While their sound hops between genres too (from IDLES-esque aggy punk through to ‘Primary Colours’-era synthy Horrors and some pretty explosive droney shoegaze), they manage to play with a sense of unity to bring all the chaos together. What a find.
And if it’s carnage you want, then no one else brings to Festival Beauregard quite like French-Polish rapper PLK. While, rapping in his native tongue, there’s an urgency to his flow and air-raid banger backing that’s arresting enough to make anyone dive headfirst without any forethought into the whirlwind circle pits erupting.
The greatest surprise of the weekend however, comes with French art-pop agitator Jeanne Added. To our ignorance, she’s released three acclaimed albums to date since 2011. From that and the huge crowd she amasses here today, you’d have gathered that she’s already established around here on her own terms. Still, for those of you not in the know, here’s the skinny: she’s got the slick R&B-flecked chops of Christine & The Queens, a Robyn-esque inclination for a disco banger, and Sia’s vocal acrobatics – but all delivered with a gothic industrial menace.
On stage, it’s like dark-disco-pop relayed through the prism of Nine Inch Nails and Gary Numan. Whether jerking across the stage like nobody’s watching or delivering a bone-rattling bassline, Added performs like the icon she’s threatening to be. She’s Europe’s dark art-rock secret just waiting for the rest of the world to find her.
Cat Power is received like she’s playing to a hometown crowd because, well, in her heart she basically is. At one point, she recalls the first time she came to France 25 years ago, and “you accepted me and it changed my entire life”. Through a swooning and sultry set that takes in earlier favourite ‘Cross Bones Style’, a beautiful interpretation of Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’ and lofty cuts from 2018’s acclaimed ‘Wanderer’ like ‘Robbin Hood’, it feels like not much has changed. It made for the perfect Sunday tonic, but the polar opposite was to follow.
From the down-to-earth to something pure alien. Tears For Fears bring back a jarring return to shoulder-padded ‘80s power-pop escapism. Coming out to Lorde’s vampiric cover of ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ before delivering the lush original, the duo run through one Yates’ Bar dancefloor synth pop gem after another. You may think of them as nonchalant, but this French crowd of all ages have either no concept of ‘guilty pleasures’ – or are lost to them completely.
Curt Smith has co-frontman Roland Orzabal use his exquisite French to translate his gratitude to the crowd before things go a little… south. “I have a sweaty bottom,” he smirks, to Orzabal’s silent refusal. “I’m afraid I might have crabs”. Silence again. “I see there’s a limit to his French too”. As well a strange euphoria meeting their outing of ‘Mad World’, another bizarre twist comes with an arena-polished cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. What a mad rollercoaster this weekend has been. Considering Limp Bizkit played in this field just a few days ago, you can’t help but sense that anything goes at Festival Beauregard.
Closing the Scene Beauregard stage, we’re a little apprehensive about Interpol. Having seen them so often on the campaign for last year’s blistering ‘Marauder‘ (as recent as last week’s stellar set at Glastonbury 2019), one wonders what the NYC gloom veterans can do to make tonight any different. Remember though, that Interpol’s core driving force is atmosphere. On this final night of their run of European summer festival shows, Interpol drink in the vibes of this open-air, late night set surrounded by the forests of Normandy, to deliver something truly one-off.
Interpol’s Paul Banks at Festival Beauregard 2019
There’s an audible gasp as the glitterball lights bloom for a highly Instagrammable moment during ‘Public Pervert’, and from then we’re all pretty much locked on to a kind of controlled intensity that only Interpol can provide – from the unpolished grace of ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ highlights ‘Say Hello To Angels’, ‘Roland’ and ‘The New’, through to the warmth of their evolved post-punk behemoths like ‘Slow Hands’, ‘Evil’, ‘The Heinrich Manoeuvre’ and ‘Not Even Jail and the paranoid raucous rush of newbies ‘Fine Mess’ and ‘The Rover’, Interpol masterfully use limited elements to mystify – and do it all in silhouette. Who knows when you’ll see them on the continent again? Like all the best things in life, be assured that it won’t feel the same.
Check back at NME for more photos, reviews and action from Festival Beauregard 2019.