Billie Eilish at Bercy, the volcanic show of a generational icon

Billie Eilish at Bercy, the volcanic show of a generational icon

His entrance on stage is spectacular: preceded by the high-pitched clamor of the public, a veritable swarm of sparrows who have been screaming for a good ten minutes already – “Billie, Billie, Billie” -, then almost threatening basses, Billie emerges leaping from a stormy setting, propelled from the sky as if by magic. Almost a metaphor for her meteoric rise, less than four years ago, in the world musical and media landscape, with songs with dark lyrics, those of a teenager struggling with her demons, in which a whole generation, that of the “millennials”, immediately recognized themselves.

Aged 20 today, the American singer has since had a meteoric career, winning seven Grammys and an Oscar (credits to the latest James Bond). For her second coming to France after a Cigale in 2019, she was expected at the AccorArena in Paris-Bercy like the Messiah: the 20,000 seats put up for sale a year ago had sold out in the blink of an eye. It is therefore in front of an audience of worshipers and worshipers, who know each of her songs by heart, that she appears this Wednesday, June 22.

Among them, a star slipped. OrelSan, seen on this same stage in March in a remarkable exercise of simplicity and proximity, is there. As a fan or a curious artist? Maybe both. He arrives twenty minutes before the concert by the stairs of our bay, and if he thought he was going incognito with his well-pressed black bucket hat and his white T-shirt, he missed it. He progresses at a snail’s pace to reach his place much lower, surrounded by a swarm of fans to whom he kindly grants dozens of selfies.

Billie kicks off on one of her biggest hits, Bury a Friendand will only rarely take the time to breathe during this one-and-a-half-hour volcanic show for which she has regained her debut imp look, far from the glamor of starlets: a sporty look, consisting of an oversized T-shirt , cycling shorts and sneakers, tempered with long fishnet mittens and several rows of chains around the neck which, with its high-pitched quilts, add a gothic and manga touch to the whole.

The setlist favors the titles of his second album Happy Than Ever released just a year ago, which she skilfully mixes with those of her first album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019), as well as his very first EP Don’t Smile at Me (2017), not to mention the singles that have punctuated his discography, in particular for the series 13 Reasons Why. Only the majestic No Time To Die is missing. Two musicians surround him, supported by pre-programmed sounds: his brother Finneas, multi-instrumentalist, co-composer, producer and lifelong accomplice, on guitar and keyboards, and drummer Andrew Marshall. And it sends! The only downside, his voice, also known for its fragile whispering effects, is regularly drowned out by the decibels and the singing at the top of the lungs of a young, even very young, mostly female audience.

The giant spider "You Should See Me In A Crown" runs through the screens at the Billie Eilish concert, Wednesday June 22, 2022 at the AccorArena in Paris-Bercy (France).  (LAURE NARLIAN / FRANCEINFO CULTURE)

The talented Billie is a powerful young woman, aware of her influence and keen to lift her audience. An audience engaged this evening in a form of collective catharsis – this singing in unison on the verge of tears, it’s overwhelming! -, so much the words of the singer resonate with the tumultuous intimacy of the teenagers of 2022. But in her efforts of positivity, Billie is sometimes on the verge of transforming herself into a personal development coach. She thus ensures that everyone should feel here “loved, important and safe“, and asks us to close our eyes and relieve ourselves of all the negative thoughts that parasitize our brain, for example by resolutely crushing them with our feet. Commit to having fun, get up, sit down, say hola with the light of his smartphone: his desires are orders and the human tide obeys him finger and eye, in total communion.

Since the time she has been pacing the biggest stages, the Californian has mastered the art of punctuating a show, made up of “moments”. On the screens parade the monsters of Bury a friendthe giant spider of You should see me in a crownthe sensual dancers of Billie BossaNovaimages of environmental devastation from All the Good Girls go to Hellor the poignant photo and video montage of his early childhood on Getting Older.

The images of environmental devastation on "All The Good Girls Go To Hell"at the Billie Eilish concert at the AccorArena in Paris-Bercy, Wednesday June 22, 2022. (LAURE NARLIAN / FRANCEINFO CULTURE)

As a real beast of the stage, which she seizes headlong, she seeks that everyone is satiated with her presence. A major sequence of the concert opens when the video interlude begins (extremely shortened and without words) of Not my responsibility, in which she criticized at the start of her tour the objectification of bodies. While on the screens her head sinks into a thick black liquid, she suddenly reappears at the other end of the room, in a basket perched on an articulated arm.

From up there, she will delight her worshipers by singing four titles (including Overheated and Bellyache, a little too shortened) while hovering over the seats on either side, as close as possible to view. We will see him disappear backstage on a scooter to return at top speed to the big stage. Joyful.

Our wisp also knows how to lower the pressure. At the heart of the concert, she sits on a high chair, her brother at her side, each with an acoustic guitar, for a splendid version of YourPower, holding the highest note of this difficult score. His voice, often crushed and sometimes barely audible, is finally returned to us in all its splendor. She is still on the next title, the new unreleased TV unveiled during this tour, a song in which she is particularly sorry for the decline of her country on abortion. It’s about Homeric’s anger at his ex’s Happy Than Ever the show closes, under a shower of confetti.

It was great!“, confides to us at the end of this tsunami Zoé, a 19-year-old swimming fan whose Billie is”the favorite singer“. She observes, however: “Mbut she was far away“. In this regard, we remember the formidable documentary on Billie Eilish, The World’s a Little Blurry, released on Apple in early 2021. This film offered unprecedented closeness to the artist, behind the scenes of his daily life and even his psyche, and placed the viewer in the front row of his concerts. So yes, seeing her on stage today can finally restore some distance in comparison – no, she’s not 2 cm in front of us, no she won’t hug us. Let’s not complain: this Friday, June 24, a new challenge awaits him at Glastonbury, the legendary British festival. She will be the youngest headliner ever programmed there. And we know in advance that she will bring him to his knees.

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