New Year’s Day in Collioure

by Simon Newman

I’ve just got back from lunch-time Collioure on New Year’s day where the sun shone from a china-blue sky, festive holiday crowds bustled, families and their dogs promenaded – and by tradition a couple of jolly, jaunty, wacky bands strut their stuff.

Credit: Eva Hodneland

How to describe? Imagine a Bavarian oompah band playing reggae, reversed into a Belgian existentialist jazz combo.

Every now and again the tempo slows down to almost a flat-liner whereupon the sax players (sporting glitter wigs and Blues Brothers Fedoras) proceed to freeze-frame their way through the audience as Suggs might in a choreographed Tarrantino blood-bath scene.

It’s difficult to know whether these are good musicians playing badly for ironic effect, or bad players heroically unaware of their shortcomings – but whichever, they play with great gusto, drama and self-belief.

Credit Robbie Shaw

Best of all the result brings a smile to every face in the audience from toddler to great-granny and yes, I swear I saw a Jack Russell surreptitiously tapping a forepaw, needing only shades and a Gauloise to complete the effect of studied insouciance.

Brilliant, bonkers music from Collioure – it doesn’t get any more French than this.

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