Lazuli / A Night Of Musical Magic And Artistry At Trading Boundaries

As part of their 2023 UK tour, the wonderfully eclectic Lazuli, hailing from the South of France, arrived in the deepest, darkest Sussex to perform at the bijoux and intimate Trading Boundaries venue. 

Lazuli

Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023

Words and Photography: Adrian Stonley

Shows here tend to differ from those in clubs and concert halls, with the arrangement of this listed building creating an ambience of its own, and those regular punters who are in on this wonderful secret always being treated to the most incredible shows. Tonight was no exception, even if many were Lazuli virgins getting their first experience of this band.

Lazuli - Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023
Lazuli – Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023. Photo: Adrian Stonley/MetalTalk

To those in the know, and unlike many other European bands, Lazuli do not sing in English but in their native French. However, it doesn’t matter that the band’s lyrics are in French, for here, the music creates a form of communication in its own right that transcends any physical language. 

It was irrelevant whether the audience could understand the lyrics or not, as the overwhelming soundscapes created by the band far outweighed the simplicities of a standard pop song and took the audience who were hanging onto every note into a world of musical magic and artistry.

As is usual at Trading Boundaries concerts, the evening was split into two, with the first set predominantly showcasing the latest album, Onze. Lazuli opened the set with the first three pieces taken from said album. Starting with Silloner Des Océans de Vinyles, this piece is a gentle and atmospheric piece that opens with a delicately picked acoustic guitar before Arnaud Beyney on electric guitar begins to stretch the song.

Tolling into Triste Carnaval, this sees the band start to open up, with impressive Leode playing an instrument similar to a Chapman Stick from Claude Leonetti. This first trilogy finished off with Qui D’Autre Que L’Autre’, another slow boiler that starts with a soft keyboard introduction before building to an impressive multi-instrumental finale.

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Lazuli - Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023
Lazuli – Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023. Photo: Adrian Stonley/MetalTalk

From there, we stepped back to the previous album, Le Fantastique Envol de Dieter Bohm, with a trilogy of pieces. Starting with Dieter Bohm, a song that is quite eclectic, Romain Thorel switched from keys to French Horn, which added an additional texture to the piece.

There is an ambience about Lazuli’s music that makes it easy to listen to and appreciate. The complexity of the music and the quality of the musical artistry is clearly there to behold, yet it is not in your face in the bombastic way that some progressive bands are. 

With Lazuli, it is a case of letting the actual sound of the music do the talking as opposed to the individual band members going out of their way to showcase their own individual abilities. Don’t get me wrong, that is all well and good. Yet with this band it is a case of less is more with their unassuming combinations a lesson in musical integrity in its own right.

Les Chansons Sont Des Boutailles A La Mer saw the band step up a level with Arnaud and frontman and guitarist Dominique Leonetti opening up on guitars and putting the rock into the prog, showing that there is more to this band than soft ambience.

The second set saw continued pieces being aired from Onze, yet two earlier pieces from Saison 8, Un Linceul de Brume and Mes Semblables. As the set developed, it became clear that the band was beginning to relax, and the audience’s reaction became louder as each piece played was greeted with greater and more rapturous applause.

It had been clear early on that the band were nervous and unsure as to how their music would be received in this environment. However, they need not have worried as the audience embraced them and greeted each piece with immense pleasure and bonhomie. 

Lazuli - Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023
Lazuli – Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023. Photo: Adrian Stonley/MetalTalk

Clearly relaxed, it became apparent that the enjoyment level on stage rose, and the songs in themselves became more stretched and technical as each band member became more relaxed and were able to open up their musicality and theatricality around the pieces played.   

By set closer Le Miroire aux Allouettes, the audience had been completely won over and were on their feet, giving a raucous response, refusing to allow the band to leave the stage. 

Eventually, after a brief interlude, keyboard player Romain Thorel returned with a jazzed version of Les Courants Ascendants from the Tant Que L’Herbe Est Grasse album, complete with jazz keys and soft snare drums. 

Lazuli - Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023
Lazuli – Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023. Photo: Adrian Stonley/MetalTalk

One more piece followed with Lazuli taking a capella stance to Les Mots Désuets, with the band showing off that they have serious vocal attributes and abilities as well as instrumental.

However, the piéce de resistance was still to follow as the band moved a marimba centre stage. Having announced their love for all things English, including the Beatles, the band proceeded in their entirety, all five band members, to play the instrument at the same time. An off-the-wall Eleanor Rigby and Here Comes the Sun enabled all and sundry to stand and sing along with the band.

Lazuli - Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023
Lazuli – Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023. Photo: Adrian Stonley/MetalTalk

I’ve been to numerous concerts at this venue, and the atmosphere is always special and magical. Yet, on this evening, it seemed to reach another level, and the clamour for the band at the end was quite simply astounding.  

Certainly, on the basis of this show, they had clearly won over a new tranche of fans and were unsurprisingly quite bemused at the reaction, albeit in a positive way. 

This show was quite triumphant, and hopefully, it will be the beginning of further visits to these shores.

Lazuli - Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023
Lazuli – Trading Boundaries, Fletching, East Sussex – 1 December 2023. Photo: Adrian Stonley/MetalTalk

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