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COLUMN

This Little Underground

Bao Le-Huu takes on John Prine, Lucero, Yann Tiersen, Foxy Shazam and more

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French composer Yann Tiersen (May 22, the Beacham) makes beautiful, occasionally breathtaking pop music. It's accessible – universal, even – but it's executed with astounding skill, taste and no live shortcuts. That orchestra-like integrity is what makes a Yann Tiersen show an exceptional experience.

Opener Piano Chat – whose French provenance gives his moniker a completely different, feline meaning – is a one-man show. The initial threads of his loop-and-layer quilt seemed to be slight, germinal frays of melody. But his sense of magnitude eventually transformed the proceedings into a dramatic monolith, especially when he added the crowning touch of his climactic drumming.

To break the considerable ice of an early crowd and a language barrier, he went down into the middle of the audience for his finale with just a mic and a small squeeze-box. He played a quiet song but got the crowd involved, creating a nice moment of hushed, huddled togetherness. Now that's how you commune with an audience, especially one full of strangers.

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