Concert Preview: Johnny Hallyday
Who: Johnny Hallyday
Where: House of blues (225 decatur st.)
For fans of: French melodies, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett
On Tuesday night, the House of Blues is hosting "the biggest rock star you’ve ever heard of,” as the French like to say. Seeing Euro-rock icon Johnny Hallyday in such an intimate venue is like seeing Elvis Presley or The Rolling Stones at Tipitina's.
If you’re from the states, perhaps you’ve never heard of him; but if you’re French (or French-speaking), he is and always has been impossible to escape. Since the '60s, Hallyday has maintained an incessant presence in mainstream media (including The Ed Sullivan Show), all starting with a love for American rock 'n roll. He was embraced from the start: He didn’t open for The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first gig in 1966; Jimi Hendrix opened for him. And he’s still equally beloved: In 2007, he didn’t write a song for U2’s Bono; Bono wrote one for him.
At 70, Hallyday still has an amazing power; he continues to validate his legend-status with a strong stage presence, rasping voice, love ballad melodies, and all the show stopping effects worthy of a stadium performance. That’s because that’s how Hallyday is used to performing -- in front of thousands.
After 181 tours, 3100+ performances, 28 million spectators, more than 110 million records sold, and 18 platinum albums, Hallyday’s career has been playing sold out arenas filled with 500,000 fans singing every word of his songs (and 9 million+ singing along to the live broadcast at home). But despite this fanatical fan base, Hallyday is still dedicated to expanding his audience. The “Born Rocker” tour is intended to do just that, by Hallyday bringing his sound to the U.S. and playing smaller venues in primarily Southern cities, from New Orleans to Dallas.
After a health scare in 2009, Hallyday announced his retirement and created a "farewell tour." But in 2012, he returned with shows in Los Angeles (where he lives part-time) and has continued to play around the world. Tuesday's show is important not only because it’s a chance to see a global icon in such an intimate space, but also because it might be the only chance. It may be your first time seeing Hallyday, but it may be his last.