Concert Review: Tahiti 80, September 22, Horseshoe Tavern

tahiti 80 concert poster

Xavier Boyer, Médéric Gontier, Sylvain Marchand, Pedro Resende, Raphaël Léger & Julien Barbagallo are otherwise known as tahiti 80, one of the most seductive live acts I’ve had the pleasure to see this year. They also have a following that I would describe as “intimate and loyal”, possibly the most attractive fanbase an independent artist can ever achieve.

Around since the late 90’s, tahiti 80 is one of those band names you often hear, but may confuse with numerous others. I myself thought that I might be going to see Air Cuba that night, but then I’m famously known for mixing-up band names. Perhaps it’s better I had no significant prior knowledge about tahiti 80 walking into Thursday’s show, because what I found was that rare instance of a group that embraces the live experience.

Their studio recordings sound comparatively sterile–this was probably the most active dance floor I’ve ever seen at the Horseshoe, and although I was content to watch from the sidelines under the air conditioning vent sitting down, I certainly appreciated the enthusiasm that their hardcore fans brought to the set. I’ve always wondered if the grind of being a professional musician ever wears them down to a nub once they realize the same crowd sizes are cropping up in the depths of their career as there were towards the beginning, but I think in this case the crowd’s obvious brimming cup of love for everything tahiti 80 more than makes up for that. I’ve been to stadium-size shows that had none of the heart that this performance did, so size doesn’t always matter.

There are several reasons this was such a great show that you don’t see with every band.

I wish I had a copy of the setlist, because you can tell these guys are incredibly seasoned performers based on the even mix of new and old. The only thing I might have changed was the incredibly energetic choices up until the first songs of the encore that seemed to cause a jarring effect when the encore started off so slowly.

This is a copy of their revised setlist after their Thursday show (written on a styrofoam plate, no less)

New tahiti 80 setlist

  • I.S.A.A.C.
  • Gate 33 (based on Xavier Boyer’s colourful encounter with a “crazy lady” at an airport
  • Better Days Will Come
  • Easy
  • Anton(?)
  • Big Day
  • 1,000 Times
  • Defender
  • Darlin’
  • Heartbeat
  • Crack-up

This was probably the first instance in which the band was happy to take requests from the audience as well.

Boyer is really the ultimate European front man, willing to take pains to tell stories and introduce each member of his band with lurid explanations of who they are. You can pretty much tell he’s the nicest guy in the world.

One of the things that has always struck me about the better performances I’ve seen over the past year is that you can genuinely sense who is living to create and perform music and who is punching in the time card as another day at the office. These guys are living to create and perform, and they love doing so, grinning and rocking out at every beat. I can only hope that they are making a decent living doing this. Live, they are probably 10x more charming than their other fellow countrymen that have hit it big in North America (Phoenix, Air).

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Tahiti 80 – Darlin’ (Adam & Eve Song) by La Chunga Publishing

Posted on by Allison in Concerts

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