Naturally, they weren't going to have a Subway and head on down the pub like Londoners do. On the brink of their third album release, Tahiti 80's restaurant of choice was the Belgium chicken/beer specialists, Belgo. Teetering between conversations once seated at the large rectangular table, there was a plain divide between the band and their co-workers. The young, blond bilingual waitress collected the plates up from the table, and Pedro (bass/Panda) thanked her in his appropriately deep, throaty French brawl. The way to interview was cleared.
The boys smile charmingly but fail to comply with my suggestion come demand for an alternative venue for this here interview; they've just eaten and nobody is going to monitor them. To my shock (because I'm British) they suggest the toilets, I decline. I suggest the record company folk fuck off and they decline, sweetly. Stubbing out a cigarette into the clear glass ashtray, we are cornered off.
It's now just the four of us – Pedro, Raphael, Xavier and me. Mederic doesn't talk, but his grandmother looks just like the Queen. Raphael barely breathes a word for lack of English. Xavier immediately steals the tape recorder to hand. He is skinny, but not starved, with prominent cheekbones. Pedro is large, but inoffensively so; it's warming. When asking after their drummer they retort submissively; he's the session drummer. Their original drummer Sylvan has tinnitus and a baby.
Does politics do anything for you? “Fuck Bush!” Xavier chuckles naughtily. But, the list goes on; clearly they don't like politicians. Hinting at their dandyism. The Queen however, is an entirely different matter in their eyes. “I don't know. I think I'm right in saying that ze Queen pours 'er milk in before 'er tea. I just love it you see, because she's the only one that can get away with that” muses Xavier.
Entry to the show is steep at £10, but the crowd builds up throughout the support. “Fosbury was a high jumper,” explains Xavier to a Barfly crowd that look and sound as ethnically diverse as Heathrow airport. French people are to the right, Japanese to the left while pluralism takes the back. It's getting more and more packed, and the first two bands fail to grasp attention.
Our earlier rendezvous was quite the eye opener. What can we expect from the live show? “Wait and see” smiles friendly panda-man Pedro. Just as the second band are coming on, Charlie finds me in a corner somewhere and tells me I've stolen their spliffs; they're inside his packet of Marlborough Lights which I have inadvertently stolen. – Apologies.
The atmosphere effortlessly warms as Tahiti 80 take the stage. Everybody bops to the music naturally, and the Barfly has suddenly become a retro Coca-Cola advert. Their personalities reflect their sound; they only allow themselves to conform logically, that's why “Robbie Williams is better than Oasis.” Their bass is what gives them a real edge. The vocals go three ways between the standing members, and the music is true to form. Xavier sings falsetto, but he doesn't like Muse much. The situation the crowd have found themselves in would be tacky, but it doesn't feel trashy enough. The keyboards switch in and out. The guitar lines take a jazzier side.
It's like something you've heard before, but can't quite put your finger on. Pedro drops his bass guitar and dons a panda hat. He smiles with honesty as the crowd cheer on his actions. He takes his seat and so the last song begins. Everybody is dancing, and everyone is smiling, and it just feels right.
Review and interview by Victoria McNaught-Davis