Thirty years ago the French-based composer from Lyòn Jean-Michel Jarre released Oxygène worlwide and it soon became one those albums that change how people (both listeners and composers) approach music, it is considered to be one of the most influential electronic music albums ever. Now in 2008 Jarre is performing Oxygène live, using the original instruments which brought its spacey sound to life, and Spain was one of the targets if that tour. Saverbrunn and me had the opportunity of attending Jarre’s concert at the Campo de las Naciones Hall in Madrid last Tuesday April 22nd. And we both believe we won’t have a chance of listening and watching to such a performance in the rest of our lives: in the last three decades this is only Jarre’s the second indoor tour.
We had a nice dinner before the concert consisting of big bread sandwiches made of Pamplona chorizo and Edam cheese, then we entered the hall and had to wait until ~22:20 for the concert to start. Jarre made its appearance on a white egg-shaped chair and before start playing he explained that they would be using the original synths which made recording Oxygène possible, so just in case something failed, they would be pleased to share the failure with the audience ; Jarre also explained that an 8-track tape recorder was used then so he would need eight hands, and then he introduced the other three musicians to the audience: Claude Samard, Dominique Perrier and Francis Rimbert.
The stage design was quite simple, taking into account how spectular Jarre’s tend to be: a set of colour-changing directional spotlights which were used to tint the synths in a vintage eighties fashion. While performing the fourth part, a giant mirror rotated 45 degrees appeared over the stage, so we could look at the musicians from «above», which was pretty interesting. Along with the mythical sixth part a video of a rendered version of the skull inside the Earth globe was projected. As far as I can recall, and after a bit of research, I believe the synths which we have seen on stage were the following:
- Modular Moog (several different modules and units)
- Some Micro Moog units
- I’m not totally sure, but I would bet there was a Polymoog
- Some effects were generated using EMS VCS-3 synths and also an EMS Synthi AKS
- Electroharmonix SmallStone phasers
- Two Eminent 310 Unique organs
- ARP Synthesizer
- RMI Harmonic Synthesizer
- Farfisa Professional PP organ
- Korg Minipops MP-7
- A Theremin whose make I don’t know
- A Moog Liberation keytar
- Some more geeky synths
(Of course, I can be wrong with my guess, and I know there can be mistakes and omissions.)
Albeit being 60 years old, Jean-Michel Jarre was very dynamic at stage, and he looked quite excited while playing some of the passages, especially in parts II, IV and IX and when playing the Moog Liberation keytar (as seen in the last picture). My impression is that Jarre looks like a funny person, albeit quite eccentric, hehe. At the end of the concert, which finished apotheosically with part IX, the audience applauded delighted: Jarre and his three hit men reappered four times before he decided to play a final song: Jarre performed part six by progressively launching backgrounds and loops before playing the main melody himself.
I still do not have all words in mind in order to describe how happy I am after attending such a special event, but I would summarize with the following word: gorgeus!