Raphaël is a mischievous crooner. Seated at the piano, interpreting in a bluish light two or three titles from his romantic repertoire on the stage of the Bouffes du Nord in Paris, the singer seems to set up the hushed and intimate atmosphere of a somewhat purring recital, to subvert it immediately, very joyfully, thanks to the irruption of an enigmatic and irreverent character. What could have been a well-executed concert then unfolds with strength and freshness in a complete, funny and touching show.
Magnetic tape, presented at the Bouffes du Nord in Paris, then on tour (1), testifies to Raphaël Haroche’s talent as a storyteller. Beneath the pop singer arises the novelist, Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle for Return to the sea in 2017, author of the collection An eclipse (2). Confronting a singer who resembles him in his image, his experience, his repertoire, he imagines a mysterious sound engineer brilliantly interpreted by Maxence Tual or, alternately, Jean-Luc Vincent.
Under the capricious leadership of this stranger who seems to know him too well, when he himself does not know why his favorite technician has not joined the recording booth, Raphaël sets to music Anticyclone, Let’s not leave angry, It’s good today, The Winter Wind, The Evening Train… under the direction of Gabriel Legeleux of the group Superpoze, and with the musician Marc Chouarain. But, jostled by his thundering demiurge, he must constantly defend his repertoire, justify himself, reveal himself.
An artist’s life takes shape, over the fluid staging of Guillaume Vincent, on a scenography by James Brandily. Summoning Alain Bashung, for whom he wrote The Saltworks, Cesaria Evora with whom he sang and whose poignant voice we hear, and “Bowie, yes, for life”, Raphaël captivates by giving his songs a wider, more universal scope. When he launches the powerful poetic charge of Caravan – “It is the good God who makes us/It is the good God who breaks us” –or the melancholic prophecy of And in 150 years, the sound engineer relativizes its seriousness. The technician, who does not hesitate throughout the show to launch an electronic effect on the singer’s voice or even to interrupt it, puts the laughers on his side and the artist in his place.
Life, death, with the moving passage of the actor and director Vincent Macaigne, a surprise guest who took the breath away of the Bouffes du Nord audience that evening, love and music parade in a saraband through heartbreaking stories , captivating, comforting. With Magnetic tape, Raphaël stirs frank and pure emotions, summons childhood, repels darkness at least for a brief but precious time.