Friday 23 July

A few months ago EV was joined by Gweltaz (guitar, oboe, vocals), Jari (base, vocals), Fakir (synthesizer, accordion, chorus) and Tof (drums). EV have been ambassadors for Breton rock music for 15 years now, touring all over Europe
(Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Wales, Finland, Corsica, the Basque region...).

On stage EV are kilt-clad, and their energetic and forceful rock style blends old and new with apparent ease... electric guitar with oboe, "samplers" with accordion, Breton with Finnish and occasionally, French... EV's stunning track record of more than 500 concerts includes co-performances with Tri Yann (Olympia and Zénith 96), Simple Minds (Interceltique de Lorient 95), Alan Stivell (Les Rockeurs ont du coeur at Rennes 93 and Rassemblement anti-nucléaire at Carnet 97), Les Innocents (Brest 97).

"ARMENS is no "off-the-shelf" or publicity-stunt-to-exploit-a-current-vogue band : Armens is above all, passion for music, and this emerges clearly on stage provided that the audience are there and ready to share a bit of their love and energy.

ARMENS is six very individual temperaments, totally different, and yet closely linked as fingers on a hand by a common impulse to communicate the music inside. Their story began a little over three years ago in Brittany (at Guidel near Lorient) when Alex began playing harmonica with Year of the Dogs in bars and café concerts the folk hymns of the Levellers, the Poques, and John Congar Mellencamp. Youn, Alex, Fab and Ben joined him, and one hectic season later Gwënn, guitarist and childhood friend of Alex (with whom he had done some theatre acting) who brought a slightly rockier feel to the group's music. Waterboys numbers and medleys of traditional Celtic themes were soon complemented by their own compositions, like Armen or Demago, as Armens continued to develop their own, sometimes surprising blend of rock and traditional themes from a previous era.

Over the following months Armens released more original numbers and performed in a series of live concerts, and so started to acquire a fairly serious reputation in local bar concerts. The group had formed an association at the outset, and the money earned financed a demo-cassette in '96, sales of which then enabled them finally to make their first CD. From then on they went from strength to strength, until 90% of their special rock cocktail of guitar, base, drums, and vocals plus the traditional strains of the violin and accordion, was their own.

Today these troubadours have managed to get rid of all labels to reach the audience who identify with the force behind their music, their purpose, and the chemistry that brought them together. Why? Because their music is rooted in sincerity, and this they want to retain at all costs. Their first album bears witness to this. Life flows here as from a spring, with nothing held back - laughter, tears, human fragility. This long journey includes elements of Levellers-type fury and the desire to shout - you will either love it or hate it. The immortal poetry of Shane Me Cohan, Jacques Brel and Mike Scott adds images to the unique melodies of Démago, Armens, Apres la chute, S-Clair, and Pourquoi? making this a divine and reinvigorating concoction.

Stéphane Hervé

Copyright Technopole Quimper Cornouaille France-Ouest 1999