Jean-Michel Jarre

November 22, 2016 - Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam (NL)


In the past five years I was lucky to witness gigs by a variety of great bands and artists that I was eager to see one time in my life: Kansas, Booker T. & The MG's, Vanilla Fudge (see review), Eric Burdon, PFM (see review), Seasick Steve, Jan Akkerman (see review), Brian Setzer and .. on this evening the pioneering French electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre. In 1976 he changed the world of modern music with his innovative album Oxygene. It was a huge boost for many (young) musicans to buy synthesizers and sequencers and make electronic music or incorporate these instruments in their sound.
Jean-Michel Jarre
Today, 40 years later, Jean-Michel Jarre is still making electronic music and is in the middle of an extensive world tour in order to promote his latest releases Electronica 1 : The Time Machine (2015) and Electronica 2 : The Heart Of Noise (2016, with the participation of known bands and musicians like Gary Numan, The Orb, Cyndi Lauper, Primal Scream and The Pet Shop Boys).

In a crowded Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam a cheerful and relaxed monsieur Jarre presented a setlist with the emphasis on the early albums Oxygene and Equinoxe and on his two new albums. He was supported by two excellent multi-instrumentalists named Stéphane Gervais and Claude Samard Polikar. Most of his new material contains catchy rhythms and tight beats. I was told that this is 'trance' music. Well, in combination with a mindblowing, very sophisticated lightshow (especially the wonderful layers of lasers), Jarre succeeded to generate more and more excitement in the crowd during the concert as often I could hear 'wow' around me. A personal highlight was the mellow Souvenirs De Chine featuring a pleasant soaring synthesizer sound. Of course the worldwide hit Oxygene IV was played, in a fine extensive version and the fans loved it. Halfway through the concert, Jarre paid tribute to the 'NSA whistleblower' Edward Snowdon. In the famous UK newspaper The Guardian Jarre said (April 2016): 'When I first read about Edward Snowdon, it made me think of my mother.
Light show
She joined the French resistance in 1941, when people in France still thought they were just troublemakers. And she always told me that when society is generating things you can't stand, you have to stand up against it. The whole Electronica project is about the ambiguous relationship we have with technology: on the one side we have the world in our pocket, on on the other, we are spied on constantly.' The Edward Snowdon tribute included the song Exit that Jarre wrote with Snowdon, it started with electronic sounds and Snowdon talking impressive words, for minutes you could see him on a huge screen. Then the atmosphere changed into a super propulsive beat, according to Jarre "a hectic, obsessive techno track, trying to illustrate the idea of this crazy quest for big data on one side and the manhunt for this one young guy by the CIA, NSA and FBI on the other". For me it was one of the highlights- this is 'the new Jean-Michel Jarre' in his full splendor! Of course Jarre is also known for his innovative technical approach and great visuals, on this tour these elements were jaw-dropping: often backed by an awesome lasershow Jean-Michel Jarre played on synthesizers with a microcamera in his glasses (to be seen on triple screen projections) and on a keytar, a distorted Gibson Les Paul electric guitar and the unsurpassed laser harp ... wow! One of the encores was the track Stardust, composed in collaboration with the worldwide acclaimed Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren. For me another example of Jarre showing his warm feelings for Holland, the first country that hailed his album Oxygene outside France stated Jarre.

This was my first Jean-Michel Jarre gig and it turned out to be unforgettable. What an exciting musical and what a mindblowing visual experience! Thumbs up for Jean-Michel Jarre on the blending of these two elements in a perfect way (like Pink Floyd and Rush)!

Erik Neuteboom (edited by Robert James Pashman)

Setlist Jean-Michel Jarre:

The Heart Of Noise
Automatic (Part 2)
Oxygène 2
Web Spinner
Équinoxe 7
Oxygène 8
Zero Gravity
Souvenirs De Chine
Brick England
The Architect
Oxygène 4
Équinoxe 4
The Time Machine
Oxygène 17

Pictures Jean-Michel Jarre by Erik Neuteboom

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Line up Jean-Michel Jarre:

Jean-Michel Jarre:
synthesizers, keyboards, laser harp, keytar, electric guitar, drum pads
Stéphane Gervais:
keyboards, synthesizers, vocoder, drums
Claude Samard Polikar:
synthesizers, keyboards, drums, vocoder, backing vocals

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