Live Review: We Are Scientists – Le Petit Bain, Paris 26.03.2023

Don Blandford

I was very VERY drunk the first time I saw We Are Scientists. At their London gig way back when they were still plugging their 2005 debut album With Love And Squalor. Drunk on beer and drunk on love having embarked on a new relationship. Fast forward almost 17 years and We Are Scientists (and that relationship) continue on, but these days, my gigs are viewed through a camera lens rather than the bottom of a glass.

Tonight the Californian trio Keith Murray (vocals/guitar), Chris Cairn (bass) and Keith Carne (drums) continue their European tour and walk the gangplank on to the floating venue Le Petit Bain in Paris to promote their eighth studio album Lobes.

Kicking off with Lucky Just To Be Here the band launch straight into their new album before revisiting songs from their Megaplex and Huffy albums. We Are Scientists are notoriously witty and just three songs in they’re already at it. Telling the audience they have two songs left! They haven’t. They’re just warming up, the boat has hardly rocked. Yet.

“Bienvenue a Paris” announces Chris before pointing out the English contingent of fans standing near me. Bloody foreigners, all standing together, looking intimidating in their We Are Scientists t-shirts. There’s obvious relief and joy at being able to finally tour again -“we were supposed to do this tour for our last record…but we had a lab leak!”.

Then. Bang! In comes the explosive classic Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt from the debut With Love And Squalor album. So soon, but it’s a nice surprise. Very much of it’s time and with echoes of The Killers and Bloc Party. It’s an instantly recognisable indie rock anthem.

In contrast to the spikier earlier offerings, Operator Error is a soaring electropop gem and Settled Accounts is infectious dance rock – both taken from Lobes. The Huffy album from 2021 also gets an outing via the compulsive You’ve Lost Your Shit before the band banter is back. Keith admits that “in about five visits to Paris none of us have seen ‘le tour Eiffel’. How is it? Did it get any taller?! It’s still standing, but what have they done, what’s new with it? Have they painted it red? The Empire State building they change every year, they put new shit on it, they even put on a chocolate fondant layer on it. They did chocolate and everyone was allowed to eat a little bit of it…”.

The surreal chat gives way to the slow beauty of Courage but not before they announce “if you know the words to this song, please don’t sing along!”

More from the latest album follows with Turn It Up which is another electro delight.

More fun follows. Keith’s tuning his guitar and Chris muses on the pinkness of the instrument and Keith retorts with “yeah you can get a six stringer…or a one stringer…” in the pink brand.

Away from the comedy there’s plenty of music left. More from the acclaimed debut including Textbook and the magnificent wall of sound that is The Great Escape from the acclaimed debut. The soaring After Hours from the now fifteen year old album Brain Thrust Mastery is an addicted slice of effervescent pop – a perfect end to the gig…before the regulation encore, of course.

Finishing with the Hi-NRG punch of Less From You from the new album is a master stroke. A fabulous floor-filling finale that really rocks the boat! After this, We Are Scientists have earned themselves a sightseeing break. Time perhaps for them to even paint the Eiffel Tower red.

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