1977’s Oxygène has sold an estimated 12 million copies, the best-selling French record of all time and he’s been listed three times in The Guinness Book of Records for largest outdoor concert crowd including 3.5 million for the 850th Birthday of Moscow in 1997. Tonight’s show at Kunst!Rasen must seem like a ‘House Concert’ in comparison. Jean-Michel Jarre however is still ‘up’ for almost two hours of music in Bonn and the overcast skies that I usually dread at open air events are actually welcome in view of the expected spectacular light show – as long as the cloudy heavens don’t open with a torrent of rain that is.
Whilst waiting for the darkness to descend, or at least increase, we have Marco to entertain us. ‘DJ’ Marco Grenier in fact, but why are they called DJ’s when they have no records? All credit to Marco though for a spirited way of lifting his arms up and down to inject some drama into the otherwise empty stage as he pressed the keys of his numerous keyboards. Think I’ll give that a try at work and impress the boss with my energy when booking invoices on the work desktop. Not easy to inspire an audience with no light-show and a sound limit that my next door neighbors lawnmower would shatter. This DJ’ing lark was never my thing at disco’s and in a sunlit field by the Rhine at 8pm it was really just filling time and hoping the sun would go in and the clouds wouldn’t burst with rain.
Jean-Michel Jarre isn’t quite my musical thing either. I did once possess a copy of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, but that was bought purely to test out the stereo capabilities of the first record player I ever owned that actually had two speakers. Yes, the sweet innocence of hearing for the first time a note swing from one corner of the living room to another. Magic days! What is my thing though is music photography, and this promised to be a feast for both the human and camera eye.
Musically I’m not too familiar with Jarre’s catalogue but I know there have been three ‘Oxygene’ albums containing a total of 20 pieces named Oxygene released between 1976 and 2016 so it’s safe to safe that a number of them were played this evening. There were presentations from the Electronica albums too. Especially poignant was ‘Exit’, announced by Jarre as a collaboration with Edward Snowden in Russia – “Because we need to know the truth” and dedicated to his Jarre’s mother who was a part of the French Resistance. Clearly his new role (since October 2016as a part of the advisory panel of the political party Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 is something he treats very seriously and finds a place in his music too. As proof the giant face of Snowden looms down from the screen during the performance.
There is naturally a gobsmacking lightshow to enjoy. Clearly scaled down from the sort of presentation made in China and more recently at the Dead Sea but still spectacular as every geometrical shape, letter, symbol and colour imaginable either rotates on the stages giant screens or flies out at you on lazsers to seemingly flutter and shimmer out in the trees and bushes at the back of the field like multicolored fireflies.
Not content with flashing lights from the stage Jean-Michel has even tamed laserbeams enough to actually play them. We couldn’t try this earlier because of the rain, so I hope it works he smiles before a long slithers of glowing green appear before his hands to be plucked grandly by Jarre, looking total surreal as the light slithers reflected back from his dark glasses. For the scientifically minded amongst my readers there is more about the laser harp HERE.
Whilst we couldn’t see too much of the Deutsche Post Towers contribution from the concert location there were clearly some interests effects going on there but the full-on Jean-Michel Jarre show, even if scaled down from bigger venues, was very definitely worth every Euro when the light went down. Shame that only 2000 or so people came out to see one of the most awe inspiring electronic musicians ever. What does it take to get the people of Bonn and surroundings out of their houses? If you weren’t there then check out my photogallery below, but be warned – there are some spectacles that only being there can truly capture!