Concerts Reviews

Concert in London: Review

Our dear friend Sergio “Paqui Dermo” Calleja, went to the concert given by Jean Michel Jarre in the Wembley Arena, London, last May 22 as part of his current “In>Doors World Tour“. Here it is his great review of that gig:

Alfer the good vibrations with the Oxgyene Tour, where Jarre demonstrated that he was able to make a good and professional job even with his performing limitations; I decided to go to one of the concerts of his current tour, and, by the way, visit London, a city I whished to visit for a while, and the opportunity arose with the Jarre’s concert that Friday. After so much Oxygene, I could, at last, hear in concert some of mi favourite tracks and see, for instance, a Laser Harp in action.

We arrived Thursday evening. Friday evening, after a long walk by the streets of London, and after a Spanish weird siesta, we went by underground rail to Wembley Park, after a long trip passing by Baker Street, the oldest underground station of the world.

The gate of the Wembley Park station paves you the way to the amazing Wembley Stadium; near the stadium you can find the more modest and older Wembley Arena. On the way to the venue there were a lot of people going to the Arena, some wearing jarrish clothes with big Coca Cola bottles, probably with some alcohol on it.

When we arrived to the Wembley Arena Square, with great surprise I saw that the ambience seemed the one for a real concert: There were many people and music on the streets (not Jarre’s tracks) and there were sales of food and drinks for people to purchase beers and sandwiches, getting the mood for the concert. There were no posters in the city announcing the concert, but there were a great ambience at the gates, as a prelude of something great going to happen.

I entered in the Arena by the north gate, according to my seat, but I went down to the hall, avoiding some Englishmen eating sandwiches and drinking beers and cocktails.

My intention was to purchase some merchandising to avoid the agglomeration of people after the show. There were a collection of T-shirts, posters, programs and jarrish items, very expensive indeed (20 pounds for a T-Shirts, and 15 Pound for a program).

After purchasing some items we went to the gate of the main arena to go to our seat on the upper terrace on the right, with good vision but a bit too far from the stage. Tough smoking was forbidden, a dense fog was floating over the arena, so we couldn’t make accurate photos, it seemed like a great joint in Marrakech. After some doubting moments, I realised that that fog was there for the lasers, but, luckily, that fog didn’t smell at all. Waiting for Cousteu was sounding as ambient music (what an original issue!!).

At a first moment it seemed that the venue wouldn’t be filled, we could see a lot of empty seats, but I was mistaken: The Englishmen were still eating sandwiches and drinking beers on the Arena hall. 10 minutes before the start of the concert, the venue was almost full (For me is inconceivable that one could be late to a Jarre’s concert, but there were many people who does like in the cinema, to enter when already it has begun). The Wembley Arena capacity is about 12.500 people and seeing that amount of people live, it seemed that they were a very big crowd.

Respecting the disposition of the instruments on stage, you have already seen pictures about that, and is similar to the Oxygene Tour one, but with more modern synthesizers, and curiously enough, the Claude Samard’s rack contained a drum set, but we didn’t realised that until he started to hit with the ramrods. There were two mixing disks and illumination, one near the stage and one more on the orchestra zone. The mixing desk crew didn’t make a great job as long the acoustics were rather bad, nothing to do with the perfect sound of the Marigny concerts and even worse than the Madrid concert last year.

The concert was scheduled to start at 20:00 but with the audience going late, or maybe by a “divo” attitude of the artist, it didn’t start until 20:15. Then, lights turned off and, without any word, the music started.

With the lasers forming a fan, like in the China Concerts, Industrial Revolution started,

rovoking in me shivers for the emotive and awaited of the concert. Jarre appeared for between the lasers, clutching a portable keyboard, with which the symbolism was increasing transporting me to Docklands.

After the initial ovation the band continued with the great Magnetic Vields 1 and its bossa nova rithm. I was afraid that laser made a dull effect but, in the end, from my position, the lasers made a good show and it were not dull at all. From the orchestra zone, I suppose, they could see the lasers in it full glory. Then, they played one of my favourite themes, Equionxe 7, very good indeed, but the rubbish sound was a real shame, because we couldn’t hear the different melodies with clarity.

Thinking at that stage of the concert that Jarre was going to play and not talk, after the third track, he picked up the micro and greeted to the crowd with a suggestive “Good evening Britain!”, reminding Docklands, and dedicated nice words to the crowd saying how great there were, how much he love them and so on… Jarre started to show his approach in this tour, more like a showman than a dedicated performer even with some mistakes.

Then he started to play an intro with the Theremin; I was very afraid but this time he could deal with the device and it didn’t sound so annoying like in other occasions. Step by step he is controlling the instrument and even he could not make melodies with it the sound is not annoying anymore, turning a rather evocative sound. So I was sure that, playing over an over again in the last tour, Oxygene 2 was going to be great in this concert but I was mistaken, tough Jarre did well the chorus (I think that this part was playback) the rest of the others musicians were not synchronized, and then the song was a bit out of sync. It’s a shame because even this song is overplayed, it’s a great tune and it has a great potential live, but they didn’t work enough this version, in my opinion.

After this, lights turned of and the Laser Harp was spread in all its glory. Jarre played a great version of Rendez-Vous 3 and even he improvised passing his hand across the beams. For me, one of the highlights of the night, because it was emotive seeing him hit the laser after all these years, and, in top of all, there were no mistake, so it was great.

After the applause we could see a hairy-60-years-old guy jumping and clapping like a madman while Oxygene 12 started a very energetic track with amazing lighting effects.

After this track, we were treated with a version of Souvenir of China, in contrast with the energy of Oxygene 12, and then changing the mood again with the mythic Magnetic Fields 2, but I missed a cleaner sound in this song.

Continuing with repetitions of the last tour, Jarre once again destroyed Oxygene 5 with an improvisated solo that punished the ears of the audience. Is a shame the big hurt that he is doing to this track, because this is a great song. Then they played Variation 3, the same that in the last tour.

The concert followed with great themes from Equinoxe, starting with Equinoxe 4, Jarre playing a perfect solo, but at the end of the song he get confused and we realise that probable that solo was playback. Then they played Equinoxe 5, one of the forgotten tracks, sounding great this time. Equinoxe faces were projected going up and down, a stunning a effect.

After this, one of my favourite songs: The Samard’s Sequencer started to play the much known notes of Chronologie 6 sequence. The rest of the musicians worked hard while Jarre, with his accordion, appeared among the lasers, very nice. He improvised over melody, and it worked well.

In the following track the lights were amazing while the stunning Chronologie 2 was placed on stage, on of the highlights of the concert; even this track is not one of my favourite ones. Unfortunately my friend tell me about a crazy bloke dancing in the stalls and from that very moment I couldn’t help to watch him until the end of the concert, turning my attention out of the scene.

During the concert Jarre said about 30 times “Thank you London!”. He dedicated the next song to somebody and then he introduced the musicians. Tough my screaming of “Paco, Paco!!” the greatest ovation was for Dominique Perrier.

And then, the crowd went wild when the overplayed Oxygene 4 started, as the most known Jarre’s piece, I suppose that this song will remain with Jarre forever. Great standing ovation to this single of 1976, curiously indeed.

The next song was a dedication to his dad, Maurice Jarre, with applause from the crowd and the band started to play Calypso 3, another forgotten track that sounded great.

Then, the most waited for my side after seeing it in a lot of macro-concerts, the famous and flamboyant Rendez Vous 2, great for the Fallas in Valencia, in other times my favourite song and today tired of it because this song is rather overplayed.

I had great curiosity about it because I consider this track the one that more identify the concept of a big Jarre concert. The vibrations were very good but I have to say that when there is not a real choir and a sample is used instead the choir, is very strange and the track looses some of its energy. I was eagerly waiting the Laser Harp moment, I love that moment. But when he turned on the harp, without hitting the beams, a random note sounded, to my real irritation. But he started to play the main melody and the result was great, a real delight.

The track endend for good with his climax, and Jarre and his musicians walked of the stage very quickly. Some of the Englishmen left the hall, but due to the crowd screaming for more, the ban walked on the stage again.

I didn’t know the encores of the concert, but to my real shame they placed again Oxygene 4, with the crowd standing up of his seats. My mood was different to the enthusiasm of the crowd and I cried “Jarre, Jarre” but then I started to enjoy this “original” song.

A lot of “Thak you London” later, he said goodbye and then he walk of the stage again. The crowd continues applauding and in the end the band appeared again on stage. Onece again, with the same illumination, Industrial Revolution was played, and then the say good bye to the audience. The concert lasted about 1 hour 50 minutes.

My friend was not very jarrish and we didn’t wait to the musicians so we went quickly to the underground. The big crowd was going to the station and we think that come back to the hotel could be impossible, but we were mistaken, all went smoothly and we arrived very quickly to the city centre.

Hungry, we went to dinner to an italian restaurant where an spanish guy said us what to eat, so we ate rather well, drinking Peroni beers. I have liked to have a drink of Peroni with my friend zopa after the concert.

As conclusion for this review I must say that I went to this concert with the good sensations of the Oxygene Tour in mind, where it seems that Jarre was in immersed in an evolution towards a style more focused in music than in the show itself, working hard, even his performing limitations, in the live renditions of his songs. But in this tour it seems that the Jarre of the AERO year is back again, hitting the cymbals and with attitudes that don’t fit in a musician of his age and long career. There were playback (I think this was due the importance of the venue). All in all, I have to say that the concert was quite spectacular and I think is a must for the fans, with great moments (other moments, certainly less great). I think, although, that Oxygene is very very overplayed and he could drop some Oxygene of the setlist.

In conclusion, a concert recommended seeing Jarre at his best and that reflects all his career better than the last tour. We will see all in Spain!!

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