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Sophie Shiran and Azul, a Study in Contrasts and Styles at James Hetfeeld’s Pub in Paris

March 21, 2014

Sophie Shiran

Sophie Shiran

PARIS – There was a moment early in the opening act at James Hetfeeld’s Pub last night when Sophie Shiran made a snide comment about a guy just outside the doorway making noise as she prepared to play another song. She was pointing out how the guy making the noise happened to be her brother and you’d think the guy would have more respect than that! Actually, he did, as the two of them were putting on a very cool double-bill of a show in a neat cellar venue in a pub on the Boulevard de Clichy, called James Hetfeeld’s Pub, and the brother and sister acts turn out to be the perfect combination for an evening of musical variety and styles.

Sophie Shiran is the friend of my girlfriend Raphaëlle, and had it not been for the invitation that way, I’d no doubt not have had the cool evening I did last night with these two completely contrasting musicians, in this neat venue. Sophie Shiran specializes in singing her own songs and cover songs as a one-woman band using looping devices, vocal harmonising devices, pre-recorded tracks and live guitar playing, both electric and acoustic.

She has a wide range of styles and approaches, and added to the mix of the one hour show she has a dramatic touch, telling stories and acting a role that feels a little like theater or cabaret – which is no surprise, since Sophie Shiran is also an actrice and music hall performer.

Azul and Band With French Variety Music

By contrast, her brother, who calls himself Azul, is a traditional French varieté singer-songwriter in the vein of a Calogero or Pascal Obispo. He plays a mean rhythm and lead guitar and has a special quality to his voice – something sandpapery and smooth at the same time – and upbeat, uptempo songs that get the room moving.

He also plays with a group, or at least last night with a drummer and a bassist, the latter occasionally going quite mad and turning the bass into a bit of a lead guitar….

All together an interesting evening musically so see the huge contrast in styles and approaches of two siblings, who seem to have absolutely nothing in common in their musical approach, but both of which are valid and obviously came from the same source. The two acts as a double-bill meant spectators had an evening of variety – can you ask for more?

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