Review: Sébastien Tellier, Scala, London

Scala, London

Further proof that more than a stretch of water separates us from the French: our Eurovision entry is a reality-TV contestant, theirs is a credible dance artist whose entry was produced by a member of Daft Punk. And even if singer/bassist Sébastien Tellier loses in Belgrade next month, his performance is bound to be one of the show's most memorable. Tellier is the man who flouts the rule that dance acts must be faceless keyboard-prodders. He is a big, scampish cross between Serge Gainsbourg and Barry White, intent on spreading his very special love - like it or not.

His bearded, cult-member looks contrast astoundingly with his moaning, carnal music (and "moaning" is not meant figuratively - the song Sexual Sportswear consists entirely of coital howls played out over a burbling instrumental track), creating a charged atmosphere that has the audience giggling as only a British crowd can.

Shameless to the core, Tellier plays the smutty Frenchman for all he is worth. It is not enough that his sleazy trance tunes, mainly from new album Sexuality, sound like porn soundtracks; he also addresses the crowd in the most insinuating way. It is all complete nonsense, but it's amazing what a man can get away with when it is said in a French accent.

"Maybe it's time to go to the party next door with the prostitution - it's beautiful," he swoons, to gales of laughter. There is less amusement when he teasingly claims to have "voted for Jean-Marie Le Pen", but the fans are much more indulgent than they would be if an English musician said he had voted BNP.

Tellier milks the disco kitschness of the Eurovision song, Divine, by twirling a glitter-ball, but does his best-known song, La Ritournelle, completely straight. "Merci beaucoup," he says, and he's off. Is Belgrade ready for this?

· At Lovebox Festival on July 20. Box office: 08448 472436.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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