Supported by Caravan World Rhythms & The Chutzpah Festival

Date: 22 February, 2004
: Richards on Richards, Vancouver

Reviewer: John Jane






Musicians: Eric Slabiak - violin/vocals; Olivier Slabiak - violin/vocals; Marian Miu - xylophone; Franck Anastasio - bass; Aidje Tafial - percussion; Pascal Rondeux - guitar; Francois Perchat - cello

Les Yeux Noirs
Les Yeux Noirs

Arriving at Richards on Richards a couple of hours prior to featured band, Les Yeux Noirs’ scheduled appearance, I was little surprised to have to wait in a line-up that stretched for half a block. I was even more surprised on entering Vancouver’s popular nightspot, to find that it was standing room only.

I had to wonder why so many people would come out on a Sunday evening and pack themselves into a cabaret club to see a European klezmer band? The answer came at ten-o’clock, when the Parisian septet took to the tiny stage to offer their potent mix of Romanian gypsy music, klezmer, Manouche jazz and attitude. The group seduced the crowd with a brand of high-energy, toe-tapping, hand-clapping music, that everyone felt compelled to participate in.






Les Yeux Noirs get their driving force and musical direction from a pair of classically trained, violin-playing brothers, Eric and Olivier Slabiak. Not all their songs are delivered flat-out. When the band performed “Lluba”, a moody, plaintive song, with the Slabiak brothers providing harmonizing vocals, it was received with exuberant appreciation by an excited audience.

The brothers Slabiak
Eric and Olivier Slabiak

Opening for Les Yeux Noirs were Olam, a local klezmer-fusion band, led by virtuoso musicians, Moshe Renert and Mike Braverman, and featuring their new lead singer, Noa.

Les Yeux Noirs took their name from a Django Reinhardt gypsy tune (Black Eyes) when they were formed ten years ago. The name seems to fit well for a French band that plays its own distinctive style of music. Perhaps the Bangkok Post had it right, when after the group’s performance at the International Festival of Dance and Music in Thailand, they were described as “The boy-band from a lost era.”

© 2004, John Jane