Home Live Review Live Review: Yelle @ 9:30 Club — 2/25/23

Live Review: Yelle @ 9:30 Club — 2/25/23

Live Review: Yelle @ 9:30 Club — 2/25/23

Yelle performs at 9:30 Club on Feb. 25, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Julie Budet began her recent 9:30 Club show in the middle of the stage, clad in in a full-face glitter mask and a trench coat. As beams of light illuminated her, they struck her face in a disco-ball effect, giving Julie the air of an otherworldly and mysterious creature here to delight us with French electropop.

Julie, of course, is Yelle, the lead singer of the same-named European band, and she began their highly anticipated show at 9:30 Club with “Emancipense,” from the band’s 2020 album L’Ère du Verseau. That album did not receive a USA tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and so Yelle made up for lost time with a dazzling performance dominated by that fourth studio record.

Although Julie and band both are called Yelle, we use the name to refer to Julie. Julie was accompanied at 9:30 Club by her longtime songwriting partner GrandMarnier (Jean-François Perrier) and touring band member Franck Richard, both of whom flanked Julie on drum sets throughout the concert on Feb. 25. Yelle coined the word “Emancipense” for the song by combining the words émancipation (emancipation) and pense (think) to cool effect. The song itself was a stunner that grew into a tumbling disco shuffle, and it put the audience on notice right away.

The 9:30 Club was very nearly sold out for this show, which was terrific as it had been far too long since Yelle visited DC. She was last here in 2017 for a show at U Street Music Hall, and it was exciting to see her not only return but return to a stage more suitable in size to her theatrics.

Yelle dedicated about half the show to L’Ère du Verseau (which is French for “The Age of Aquarius,” by the by), which turned out to be a crowd-pleasing decision. She soon performed the catchy, fun, yet poignant “J’veux un chien” — translation “I want a dog” — a song about the desire for a loyal companion. The percussive-forward number was bright and upbeat and people responded to it by dancing as much as the limited floorspace would allow.

Watch the official music video for “J’veux un chien” by Yelle on YouTube:

The L’Ère du Verseau winning continued. Next, Yelle performed “Karaté,” whose rat-a-tat lyrics were a bit of a Euro-styled spoken rap. Then, the charming “Je t’aime encore” carried a samba-like rhythm and provided a quieter moment during the show. By this time, Yelle was fully in her element. She removed the glitter mask after the very first number. As the show progressed, she revealed her trenchcoat actually was composed of several pieces, including a separate skirt, which she dropped to downsize into a more comfortable trench-leotard for the bulk of the concert.

Lively and conversational, Yelle kept the show rolling by reaching back to her 2014 album, Complètement fou, for half a dozen tunes. The band performed the title track around the show’s two-thirds mark. Yelle introduced the track by warning us, “It is time to go completely crazy!” Appropriately, Julie, GrandMarnier, and Franck hammed it up quite a bit for the frenetic ditty. They would strike comic poses to punctuate Yelle’s choral declaration of “Complètement fou!” The audience ate up both song and antics, and the levity brightened our stylish ad hoc Eurodisco.

Thankfully, Yelle did not come without something new to share! In January, Yelle dropped a new single, “Top Fan,” a song with a title that signals a rare nod to their large population of English-language admirers. The thrilling and groovy new song made strong use of GrandMarnier’s talent for churning drums, and it’s a very stimulating composition. Yelle sang the song at the beginning of a four-song encore — an encore that also included the very welcome “Que veux-tu” from Safari Disco Club, Yelle’s very satisfying sophomore record.

Watch the official music video for “Top Fan” by Yelle on YouTube:

Curiously, Yelle is only in the USA for four shows, including a second show in Brooklyn at Elsewhere Hall tonight, March 1, and a final date in Los Angeles at The Belasco on Friday, March 3. Perhaps she’s testing the water for a full North American Tour later this year to accompany an album release? Whatever the case, it’s excellent to see Yelle perform live, and fans should avail themselves of this opportunity to catch her on this limited run of shows. Yelle easily delivers the best live pop show to date for us Americans!

Here are some photos of Yelle performing at 9:30 Club on Feb. 25, 2023. All photos by Mickey McCarter.



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