Tuesday night Québec’s Coeur de Pirate (Béatrice Martin) made one of her every-few-years appearances in Los Angeles at the El Rey Theatre. It was her first appearance in LA since the release of 2018’s en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé.
The set featured a bunch of songs from that album, leading off with poppy/troubled “Combustible”, along with the heavy “Je veux rentrer” and “Malade”, the timeless stunner “Somnambule”, and the happy-music/serious-lyrics of “Carte Blanche”. A theme of raw self-awareness and relationship-reflection runs through all of these songs and contrasts with the lighter tone of earlier oeuvre songs in the set like “Adieu” from 2011’s “Blonde” and breakout track “Comme des Enfants” from Coeur de Pirate’s self-titled 2008 album, which she noted before playing, has become a French class standard.
Some shit has gone down since 2008. A high -profile relationship and breakup with that guy from Bedouin Soundclash, a marriage, a birth, coming out as Queer, another high-profile relationship and breakup with Laura Jane Grace from Against Me!, and endless touring probably would’ve made most people throw in the towel long ago. But Martin persists with a fierceness and lyrical honesty that combines to make her a remarkable force on stage. From glittering pop rock songs to delicate piano solos to a rousing cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, the audience was riveted and I think we all forgot that anything else was happening in the world.
As with her 2016 show at the same venue, it was packed. Which is impressive for a singer who sings the vast majority of her songs in French. I’m guessing that many of LA’s French and Québécois ex-pats were in attendance. I assume the non-French speakers love the rich tone of Martin’s voice and excellent songwriting and figure out the translation later on, like me. Thanks Google.
After this LA show, Coeur de Pirate is off to more tour dates across Canada in March and France in April. Nothing announced yet for another LA show but the track record suggests we can see her again, at the El Rey, in… 2022. But hopefully way sooner than that.
Words and photos by Tim Aarons