Stromae at Werchter Boutique 2022. Copyright JC Guillaume.
“Hartelijk bedankt!” It is 9:45 p.m. this Sunday in the plain of Werchter and Stromae is on the verge of tears when he addresses the public one last time. Moved. Deeply moved. 63,000 people acclaim him after his ninety-minute performance. There are young people, old people, girls, boys, Flemings, Walloons… Unity is strength, it’s so beautiful. The biggest Belgian artist on the biggest Belgian festival site. Paul Van Haver, handsome player, announces that Gorillaz will succeed him on stage and returns home. Heads full of stars.
Louder than at Palace 12
At Palais 12, we were amazed by the debauchery of LEDs, the 3D, the little robot dog, the lights, the beautiful costumes, the salmon color of his pants, the white shirt and the tied ribbon that replaced the bow tie. Everything remained of course. But in Werchter, it was the music that made everyone agree. We still admired his avatar on the giant screens. But we especially appreciated the close-ups zooming in on Paul Van Haver’s face and on the expert hands of his four musicians sliding over the instruments. Guitar, bass, percussion, keyboards, computers, it plays, it hits, it farts… At Palais 12, the Maestro spoke only in French. In Werchter, he still spoke in French but also in Dutch. Very well by the way. An attitude that says a lot about his perfectionism. Perfectly set, his show is also enriched by improvisations and the unexpected. This is what makes the difference, its difference.
sons of joy
It’s well known. Stromae most often writes sad songs and puts catchy rhythms in them to better touch us. This Sunday, he thus evoked prostitution (Sons of Joy), the difference (All The same), the cancer (When it is), the Depression (hell), absence (Papaoutai). Many times he told the audience. ” It wasn’t very happy what I just sang, was it? “And then he left in a pirouette, burst of laughter and took his fans elsewhere. We admire, moreover, his desire to convey such messages. Stromae knows that it is not easy. Especially in a festival of mass. But his charisma, his gestures (incredible on All The sameelegant on Laughtragic on Tremendous), as well as his surrealist poetry allow him to approach such subjects without ever weighing down the atmosphere and losing the public’s attention.
Then we dance ?
Paul Van Haver is also smart. He wisely places his most catchy tracks in the setlist. Good Day, Papaoutai, Laugh and Health explode the barometer of collective hysteria. But he is even stronger on the finale with a breathtaking version of So we dance, the founding act of the Stromae mania that he erects today as a post-covid anthem calling for letting go. Big, very big slap. Never has a Belgian artist aroused such madness in Werchter.
Stromae at Les Ardentes on July 10 (full)
Stromae at Cabaret Vert (Charleville-Mézières) on August 17th.