There is a great program on Eén, the Flemish public broadcasting channel. It’s called ‘God en klein pierke’ (translated it means god and the little worm) in which Martin Heylen, one of the best and experienced Belgian documentary filmmakers and our local Louis Theroux, gets to follow a famous Belgian. Yesterday’s broadcast was about Arno. He is one of the Gods, musically in the whole French speaking part of the world. They followed him during the last weeks of his two year ‘Brusseld’ tour in Ostend, a gig in Leffinge Leuren and some more gigs in Canada. In my family, we admire him for his musical passion and rock ‘n roll lifestyle. Just two years ago, I gave everyone in the family tickets to go and see Arno in his town of birth, Ostend. It was a great concert!
Arno doesn’t believe in the future, nor the past, only in living the carpe diem motto. The most remarkable thing you notice about Arno, is that after 40 years of performing on stage, he still has enormous stage fear. He needs to be left alone, some time before the concert starts – whether it is in a big or small venue. His fear sprung from the fact that as he rightfully said: “I don’t play for a venue. I play for an audience.” Afraid to let the audience down, angry when he has done so. Pumped up when he delivered. Arno, the artist is always full of doubt. And the documentary was all about the artist Arno. Martin tried to get more out of the personal Arno but Arno refused. You have to respect that. You just get a sneak preview of who he really is.
The real Arno is to be found in Brussels. When living there, I regularly saw Arno, walking around, hanging out in bars in Brussels. That’s his real habitat. I particularly remember a snowy day where Sofie and I were throwing snowballs at each other when a kid joined us in doing so. It was real fun until suddenly his dad appeared. That dad was Arno. So we threw some ball towards him too. He didn’t like it and summoned his son to go home. We yelled at him to join in, but I guess his hangover was too painful. His kid however didn’t stop, and we saw a smile of his face when he got fully hit.
Arno is always full of funny citations, filled with lots of wisdom. The one that stroke me hardest was the one he got from his father, who got it from Shakespeare: “Life is like a tale, told by an idiot.” In the documentary, Arno is the idiot telling a tale. The documentary in itself was great, a brilliant piece of storytelling. But it only shed light on a part of the subject’s personality. If you wish to see Martin’s conclusion of Arno, watch it here.