Published Feb 18, 2016Lou Doillon swung through Toronto last night (February 17) in honour of her 2015 release, the Taylor Kirk (Timber Timbre) co-produced Lay Low. The French triple-threat (actress, model and musician), daughter of director Jacques Doillon and British iconic babe Jane Birkin (Doillon shares her striking features), effortlessly charmed the Drake's at-capacity audience from the moment she first spoke.
"I thought there would be 10, 15 people, people that we paid here," Doillon said, before addressing her favourite things with the crowd. "I love, absolutely love to see people dance — dance for themselves, trip and fall into motion. I also love to see snogging…kiss and kiss and kiss. If you want to sing along, you can, or you can pretend to sing. Those are my favourite things."
The audience was wonderfully receptive, cheering loudly after each song and offering some amusing comments in French ("Prenez la guitare, bébé!"). Doillon herself, who wields a sonic mix of Patti Smith and country-tinged Bob Dylan, shared the backstories of many a tune ("This song is for sick, fucked up people like myself and calm men like him") and engaged everyone with a spot of storytelling, in true folk-singer fashion. Near the evening's end, seated behind a piano, she took the time to address what happened to her and her band following the Bataclan attacks: "We all share the same guilt. We wonder if we should keep living, loving, giggling and all that…the most beautiful quality of human beings is that we get back up. We need to be funny and keep giggling and dancing."
Dressed in a blue blazer and slinging a similarly coloured guitar, Doillon and her four-piece band composed of French fellows played slickly. They're a talented and tight bunch, and invited the audience to get lost in their sound with them. "Nothing Left" featured a fantastic organ solo, "Ticket Line" had each band member snapping in their microphones and "Left Behind" featured Doillon behind the piano. Everything about Doillon was a treat — her cool, comfortable and conversational demeanour on stage, her raspy and unexpectedly deep vocals in stark contrast with her sweet and bright British accent, the way she whispered "merci" after nearly every tune. She strummed, she sang, she clutched the mic, she stepped back with eyes shut and delighted by dancing.
The night's highlight was "Places," for which Doillon started on her knees until the song swelled up slowly and anxiously into an explosion of sound, with looped guitar and an overall sense of chaos. Then, gently, Doillon closed off the evening with "Weekender Baby," as she asked for the house lights to be turned on and hers shut off, so that everyone could hum along together, as one, as the song ended. "C'mon, bumblebees," she encouraged, and everyone obliged.
Opener Andy Shauf was a perfect pairing. "My name's Andy Shauf…you know, yup. What did you guys do today?"
Solo, he softly made his way through tunes off of The Bearer of Bad News ("Hometown Hero," "Lick Your Wounds") and a few new tunes (his new record will be released in May) in his honey-mouthed manner that finds him rounding his Rs, his restless eyes scanning the room back and forth. Shauf set the tone for the evening nicely — all eyes were on him, and the old adage rang true: You could have heard a pin drop.
Shauf coy but absolutely captivating, his sweetness is nearly unbearable. After asking if anyone had any questions following new tune "Jenny Come Home" an audience member bluntly asked, "Why did you cheat on Jenny?" Flustered, Shauf spoke after a subtle silence, "Um…it's just a story guys. I would never!"
He ended his set with the devastating "My Dear Helen," which prompted a few in the crowd to clutch their lover's hand or hold back tears. "You excited to see Lou? I'm a bit of a hype man," said Shauf, breaking the audience's hearts with his charm. It was an emotive evening, to say the least.