After a dozen or so years Jean Michel Jarre returned to Gothenburg and Scandinavium. Last time he was here was during the “Oxygene 7-13 Tour” and I remember that show to be the first really big concert I went to. Despite having a seat extremely high above and far away from the stage, I remember gasping for oxygen not due to the elevation but rather the terrific performance on stage. Yesterday was no different albeit my seat was much better this time.
The current, and first, according to Jarre himself, world tour is entitled “In-Doors” and has just begun with shows in Hungary, The Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark before coming to Sweden.
I have been to four Jarre concerts in total through the years, and all of them have been very different. Last year saw the 30th anniversary of the classic “Oxygene” album with a special “Oxygene” tour and the album reprogrammed using all the old machines. The stage design then was entirely focused on the vast number of vintage keyboards, synthesizers and various electronic musical equipment - his “old ladies”, as Jarre lovingly call them.
This time he brought even more stuff to the stage but has chosen to play larger venues and the stage design is completely revamped. There is a large elevated stage and four keyboard cubicles in the middle of the stage. Each housing one of Jarre’s trusted partners in crime. The three other musicians on stage are Dominic Perrier (keyboards, synthesizers), Claude Samard (musical director, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion) and Francis Rimbert (according to Jarre he plays: ”Uhm… a lot of synthesizer parts and… yes… a lot of sequenced stuff as well…”).
In addition a number of lasers was used for the stage show; I counted at least five of them and the very beginning of the show was awesome: A sheet of laser light and Jarre’s hand punching through it. There was also a number of huge search-light like lamps used throughout the show. Overall the intricate webs of laser beams, light effects and smoke machines made this show really a treat for the eyes as well as the ears and the purpose of bringing the Jarre concept indoors was to make use of the special architecture of the various venues. I found this to be very well executed in Scandinavium, despite the lasers hitting a lot of strange stuff in the ceiling. The whole experience was a perfectly integrated combination of visuals and sound. The most beautiful ingredient had to be the laser harp though, used in the beginning of the show and once more towards the end. And yes, he is triggering the sound live, Jarre got one or two notes wrong but I certainly did not mind, it was the same back in 1997 when the tip of his shirt caught one of the lasers beams. Apart from the laser harp there was too many things on stage to mention.
Well OK, a brief best of list then: A good friend of me counted three Syntars, three Eminents (who on earth could be bothered to bring three of them, I guess the answer is... Jean Michel Jarre). We discussed the logistics of the tour afterwards and came to the conclusion that they already have paid a lot of money for their roadies and why not make them earn their money) and of course they brought the ARP 2600 and 2500, the Minimoog, the Moog Liberator, the Theremin, centred in Jarre’s cubicle there was a Nordlead with the bright red back facing the audience. I remember the show in 1997 where he got one brand new Nordlead from Swedish Clavia and it was pre-programmed with bunch of sounds. Jarre also played a few songs on his Keytar. In short, the equipment on stage must be the wet dream for all you synthesizer fans out there; it certainly was for me.
The show lasted for almost two hours and they played more or less all the best known material, I will not spoil any future attendants shows by listing the entire set list but you get all the classics. The versions played were close to the originals and not as dance orientated as the versions played at the “Aero” concert in Denmark a few years back, for example. Highlights were of course “Magnetic Fields 2”, “Rendez-Vous 4”, “Chronologie 6”, “Oxygene 12” and the encores “Oxygene 4”, “Calypso 3” (dedicated to the audience, as usual) and “Rendez-Vous 2”.
The crowd was very enthusiastic and appreciative and I think that I have never seen Mr Jarre so energetic on stage before. He showed his enthusiasm and ran around the stage waving and clapping his hands, clearly very happy with the crowd reaction. For a guy over 60 years old he is fit. A friend told me after the show that he thought that it looked like Jarre had won the world championship of synthesizing after each song, I loved it! The rest of the on stage crew also seemed to be in a very good mood laughing at each other’s ad libs and the few mistakes.
Anyhow, this is the beginning of the world tour and with more and more dates being announced this could be a journey well into 2010. I hope that the tour will come back to Europe later on and I would love to go to a concert towards the end of the tour and see how it has evolved.