Arno – in concert from FIP, Paris – recorded at Radio House – February 25, 2016 – Radio France –
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Arno in concert tonight. Don’t know who he is? Well . . .
According to The Low Countries website bio:
“The Americans have Tom Waits, the Flemish have Arno. The singer with the rasping voice is undoubtedly the most colourful and most cosmopolitan rocker that Flanders has ever produced. Arno, né Hintjens (b. 1949), delights in putting listeners off balance. At the same time though he is a master of the art of self-mockery. Regarding himself more as a flop star than a pop star, a clown as much as a singer, he has himself addressed alternately as Charlatan and European Cowboy.
This Ostend-born resident of Brussels first made himself heard as a singer and harmonica player in the early 1970s, with blues-oriented groups such as Freckleface and Tjens Couter. He would only make history between 1980 and ’85 as the front man of the totally unique TC Matic, with whom he performed a blend of new wave and James Brown’s funk heritage on countless stages both in Belgium and abroad, and wrote classics like ‘O La La La’ and ‘Putain Putain’ (Bloody Whore). From the latter we remember the immortal line, ’k hèn e klintje, moar ’t schiet verre’ (I’ve got a small one, but it shoots a long way).
Arno is the archetypal Belgian who speaks several languages – English, French and his Ostend dialect – but doesn’t really master any of them. His inimitable idiom, for which he himself thought up the term Arnolais, certainly didn’t stand in the way of an international career. Since the singer has been working under his own name, he has collaborated with well-known producers such as Holger Czukay and John Parish, done concerts in both Montreal and Moscow, been heard in the Flemish version of Disney’s Toy Story and figured as an actor in various films. In between times he disappeared into bands like Charles & Les Lulus, The Subrovnicks and The White Trash European Blues Connection.
Arno makes no secret of the fact that he’s not very practical. ‘The only thing I can really do is make music’, he says. ‘And that’s all I need to be happy. For me, music is the ultimate refuge; something that makes me forget my worries. Thanks to the path I’ve chosen I can be a voyeur. I’m not much of an autobiographer, I prefer to observe. I absorb the things I see and spit them out again later. But I am in charge of my own life, so I don’t need to join in any parade. And since I’ve been making music for over forty years, I’m well aware of all the pitfalls. I’m not worried about losing my recording contract any more. I know I’ll be making music till I die.’”
That’s a thumbnail sketch, but it’s enough to get you introduced to this rather unorthodox artist and hopefully get you curious to sample any one, or a number of, the more than a dozen albums to his credit.
In the meantime, crank it up and give a listen.