Ange [France]
Updated 6/30/06

Concerts 1976-1977 (?, VHS)
En Concert 1990 (?, VHS)
Concert Volume Un (?, VHS)
Anthologie - Séve Qui Peut Tour (?, DVD)
Un Ange Passe (?, DVD)
Live Tour 2003-2004 - Par les Fils de Mandrin (06, DVD)
Ange - Live Tour 2003-2004 - Par les Fils de Mandrin

Ashamed though I am to admit it, as ringmaster of this circus called the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, I had gone through about 35 years of listening to prog and had never heard any Ange. I had heard of them, of course, through the original GEPR before I took it over, from Progression magazine, etc. So, my first experience of the band was seeing their 2006 DVD Live Tour 2003-2004 - Par Les Fils De Mandarin. How very glad I am that I had never heard them on LP or CD before this! Because I'm sure I would not have gotten much out of simply listening, especially since I don't speak French. But seeing Ange performing this '70's music (the original album was released in 1976) live with their post-reconstruction line-up [Benoit Cazzulini (drums), Caroline Crozat (vocals, dance), Tristan Decamps (keyboards, vocals) Christan Decamps (vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar), Thierry Sidhoum (bass, acoustic guitar), Hassan Hajdi (guitars)], I was absolutely spellbound by the combination of the music, the lighting effects and the theatrics of the band members, particularly Christian Decamps and Caroline Crozat, though all the band members participate in the stage play to some extent.

As a non-French-speaker, I'm left to guess the meaning of all the action taking place on stage. Crozat seems to be a Gypsy witch who places Decamps under a spell, then changes him into a clown, where, still spellbound, he plays a keyboard solo on a small "toy" keyboard. Crozat at turns brandishes knives, plays cards with other band members and gives an impassioned, soundless speech, perhaps inciting the other band members to revolution? She dances with wild abandon and sings with crazed eyes that say, "don't mess with me or I'll kill you!" Decamps isn't quite as animated, but still gets into the act, falling under Crozat's spell and twitching senselessly in a chair while she changes him into a clown. He marches around the stage singing imploringly to the audience, who are eating this up ... judging from the response, they were very familiar with these songs.

Meanwhile, guitarist Hassan Hajdi plays guitars in both a David Gilmour slow bluesy style and also Steve Howe-like, jamming so many notes into the solos it seems like he can scarcely keep up with them. Bassist Thierry Sidhoum plays furious bass lines or snappy acoustic guitar chord progressions while dancing on stage and looking like a caricature of a chain-smoking beatnik Frenchman. I don't know what it all means, but it's fantastic. The sound quality is as good as any live album I've ever heard, the vidography is very good, and the overall result turned me into an instant Ange fan. I'm seriously looking forward to seeing their performance at NEARFest 2006 in a couple of weeks as I'm writing this.

As an aside, I recently discovered (and purchased) an English version of the original 1976 album, recently released on CD. It seems that, back in the day, someone thought this was Ange's chance to break through to the international market, so an English version was recorded. It was never available except as a bootleg until this recent release on Musea Records. Hopefully, after a few more listens, I'll be able to figure out a bit more about what's going on. However, from a musical standpoint, I think the DVD version blows away the album. -- Fred Trafton

[See Ange | Decamps, Christian | Decamps, Francis | Haas, Daniel et Yves Hasselmann]

Click here for the Ange web site (in French only!)
Click here for Musea Records web site, where you can order Ange DVD's