Quebec four piece folk sensation Le Vent Du Nord made a return visit to The Stables on a UK tour which is mostly taking in a number of folk festivals offering the group high billing. Drawing on a heritage of imported European traditions their sound offers a blend of French, English and Irish music in particular as well as Le Vent Du Nord’s own writings in the Quebecois traditional style and an unexpected (even by the band) touch of country music. It turns out that not every book of lyrics found in an attic is actually all that old.
The band consists of Nicolas Boulerice on hurdy-gurdy and keyboards, Olivier Demers on fiddle and foot-stomps, Simon Beaudry on guitar and bouzouki, and Réjean Brunet on bass, various squeezeboxes and jaw harp. In the best of folk traditions all of the band also sing – providing lead and harmony vocals in multiple combinations, as well as some lovely A Cappella singing and onomatopoeic mouth music which Nicolas encourages the audience to join in with reassuring us that “it’s not French…it’s not English…it’s not anything really”. As well as passing along lead vocals or instrument duties the first set also saw a humorous exchange of banter about, of all things, whether or not the title of their new album, Tetu, should have had an “s” or not. As each band member expounds their position on having – or not having – the “s” it’s both surreal and humorous and also a most imaginative way to advertise the main new product on the merch’ table!
Whilst they do set out to entertain – unashamedly – their commitment as a band to the music is unwavering. They play a number of fast tune sets – at some earlier point in Le Vent Du Nord’s fifteen year career they must have been one hell of a ceilidh band – and, even if one’s French isn’t truly up to it their songs are excellent as well, at times given a particular atmospheric urgency through the use of smoke and lighting effects, adding a mysterious edge to the hypnotic drone of the hurdy-gurdy. Le Vent Du Nord are huge fun – they have a good time, the audience has a good time, there’s even an, almost, spontaneous outbreak of dancing amongst portions of the crowd. Sometimes music should be just straightforwardly enjoyable – Le Vent Du Nord fill that need admirably. If you enjoy the likes of modern day Fairport, Mawkin or Leveret then it’s a safe bet that, if they aren’t already, Le Vent Du Nord could be your new favourite French language folk band.