Jarre Concert

In summary, 1) Both my old Canon A200 camera and the one in the Nokia E71 suck at total darkness with intense laser light shows. :) Well, that's a lie. They both just suck. And, 2) Jarre is still around and looking and sounding great, and 3) My ears survived without using the precautionary earplugs...

In fact, I expected much worse sound from an indoors concert - I wasn't sure about the acoustics of the arena which is also built for ice hockey and such. But the bass was body-rattling without being resonant or overpowering, and the cymbals had sharp definition without slaughtering the ears. (Jean-Michel was mad about the cymbals btw, he hit them perhaps more often than was called for, hehe.)

The music selection surprised me, I had expected a lot more stuff from his modern albums - Aero, Teo and Tea, Metamorphose. But it was a good surprise for me - the focus was completely on analogue goodness, especially Rendez-Vous and Equinoxe. :) There was a track from each of the albums Chronologie, Waiting for Cousteau, and Oxygene 7-13, and the remainder a "best of" of the Revolutions album and earlier albums.

Jarre presented his crew of 3 a bit into the show (Michel Geiss on keyboard - I'm pretty sure...), and for the technostalgic among us, there were some nice apparatus on the stage. :) Apart from the Theremin, the MIDI accordion, the keyboard axe, and the Laser Harp, there were Arps, Moogs, and Fairlights. And some strange sequencer-like wooden cabinet with white front and black text, which I can't find the model of now.

The following is a spoiler of sorts - so if you plan to watch his Indoors Concerts series later this summer, read on at your own peril. 

His three companions handled the background stuff. The drummer only got to play on the more mighty symphonic pieces, this was very much an analog concert. Apart from the laser harp, the light show was a bit of a letdown. The motorized light circular lasers aimed at the roof beams, where I (and probably Jarre) had hoped there would be a big screen. But this was above the floor seats, so I guess safety reasons were involved. So the images drawn were segmented by the beam structure.

Jarre ran between the synths and sequencers in his "U" setup. I counted 3 or 4 synths and two small sequencers plus the two cymbals, where he hand-programmed some sequencers at the start of songs, firing off some LFO effects, and live synths performances of chord sequences and melodies. There were a few goof-ups, this being a performance, but he soon warmed to the task, and the highlights were Second Rendez-Vous, part III on the Laser Harp and Oxygene II "chord melody".

Between the songs there were transitions, ie. most of the songs were extended with these transitions, some with new effects, notably Equinoxe Part VI. This was of course due to the live performance aspect - it takes some seconds to set up the other synths used in the next song. Apparently he seems to vary the repertoire with each city; one of the songs was an exclusive for Gothenburg, he said. In this 2.5 hour concert he wasn't talking to the audience more than 4-5 times, but it was not like he was hiding behind a keyboard, either. For a concert like this, his keyboards need him at the keyboard quite a bit, of course ;)

Jean-Michel wore black leather pants, basketball sneakers, and a white silk shirt over his pants, buttoned up at the chest. Oh yeah, hot stuff @ 60 years old! Hah. Well, I wouldn't mind looking like 37 when I'm 60!! And having hair to the shoulders... :) Must be anti-oxygants!! And being married to a 12 years younger beautiful actress... hmm what else can I add to my jealousy list :P

The mightiest pieces were the Rendez-Vous pieces, which were felt "on the hair of your chest" (c) Jarre. Souvenir of China was also very nice. There was a new version of one of the Oxygene/Equinoxe songs that had heavier percussion and as it seemed, another lead melody overlaid, or perhaps it was a new lead synth sound, that was the star of the show to my ears. And - of course - I can't find out which part it was when I have a quick listen to the original ones. Even though I think the original material is still outstanding, and remixes are almost always inferior, I really liked that version!

After the (seemingly) last piece, sure enough, he came back to play his most famous piece (but in my opinion, he has many pieces that are less direct yet more appealing), namely Oxygene IV. After the encore he surprised us with two more pieces, I can't say accurately about the first, so I won't. But last we heard a final piece on the laser harp. I don't know if this was a new laser harp, but it was motorized (beams spread like the fingers of the hand) and had green beams.

I went to this concert out of deadly fear he would stop touring soon and I've never seen one before! (Bites knuckles.) I tried to not overexcite myself, "it's only indoors", "it's in a hockey arena, it will sound crap", "he's old and won't be the star he once was". But the only letdowns were the lightshow and the length of the concert. In my overactive imagination, of course he would play until midnight and have some secret effect planned for the twelve-strike. :P 

But I savored every moment, but I wouldn't mind if the concert had been an hour + longer. :) 

In summary, go there for the music. He plays in Stockholm tomorrow at 19.30, I bought my tickets at ticnet.se. He will continue his tour in Europe, of course. Bring binoculars if you don't get a seat at the front row, or if you want to check out his handiwork with the synths during the performance ;)

A very few photos from the concert survived the torture of darkness+light show. See them in the gallery on the right. 


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