In the belly of the AccorHotels Arena, the concert event “That I love you” which closes a day of tributes to Johnny Hallyday has been in full swing for almost two hours. Behind Louis Bertignac in full Hey Joe grooving from the pelvis with Yarol Poupaud, an archive image: Johnny, young, vigorous, cut like a blackjack, is braced on a festival stage and kicks his guitar neck hard to an unwelcome hairy chest for release it from there, while continuing to play. We feel a bit like this anonymous keke when leaving the Arena, groggy, bruised, in overdose of wock’n’woll, several degrees of hearing acuity irremediably lost and weird sensory persistence stuck to the body at the end of this day: in the streets around Bercy, so calm at this hour, you think you can see and hear Johnny everywhere.
We knew what to expect since the setlist was two pages long. Aligned like a string of shiny sausages: Florent Pagny, Patrick Bruel, Patrick Fiori, Nolwenn Leroy, Kendji Girac, Slimane, Calogéro, in short all that the nation has large vocal organs to honor the memory of an icon inseparable from his vibrato stretched like a blood-for-blood leather thong. At the foot of the stage, no less than fifteen Tambours du Bronx-style barrels, sprinkled with a thick layer of talcum powder for a mossy visual effect when you tap on it. Add to that a quite astonishing quantity of guitars, electric organs, nine square meters of drums, two grand pianos, a symphony orchestra, choristers and here is the reinforced concrete case of this curious competition of shouts which will have competed of intensity with the concert of 140 Harleys engines which we attended earlier in the day, on the newly baptized Esplanade Johnny-Hallyday.
Catherine Ringer is strikingly playful in Gabrielle and when Louane sings Diego free in his head, we feel something simple and deep that contrasts with the buckets of excess that the other protagonists throw in our faces. We will still offer an accessit to Slimane, who shouted louder than the others to the point of falling to his knees in the artificial fog at the end of his Requiem for a fool, Patrick Bruel, who made the women of the audience scream louder than him (“Patriiiick!”), and Kad Merad, who, wearing a very small borsalino, delivered a vocal imitation of Johnny disturbing realism in his number of Jean-Michel Quoimagueule in duet with Florent Pagny (how that, it was not a sketch ?).
In the end, it is on the side of the public that we will have experienced the most beautiful moments of musical emotion, an overwhelming audience when it doubles with a single voice, massive and fervent, the choruses, the verses and even the spoken interludes, touching when he punctuates a performance deemed successful by chanting “Johnny Hallyday” on the airWe are the Champions. At the end of the affair, in the bar where this report was being written, a pillar of a counter bellowed That I love you, continuously, the voice more and more deep (“This is his eighth beer, the barman explained to us, he is deaf but he does not realize that we no longer have to excuse him ”). And during the official morning tribute, underlined with instrumentals by Johnny’s musicians, the fans massed in the rain sang All the music that I love and other hits to the point that we no longer knew who was accompanying whom. Johnny gone, they’re Johnny.