Last evening Roma and I went to the Jean Michel Jarre concert at the National Concert Hall (NCH) for a performance of his 1977 album Oxygene. Before the concert we had a very nice meal at Peploe's Restaurant on St Stephen's Green where apart from excellent food we also did a little bit of celebrity watching - the actor Gabriel Byrne was at the next table.
The concert was excellent and both Roma and I really enjoyed it. It's been many years since I had been in the NCH - I think the last time I was there was for a concert in which Dad sang as part of a chorus. Can't remember what it was. The first time I was in the NCH building was back in 1977 (the year of Oxygene!) when I sat the National University of Ireland Matriculation Examination - at that time this was a second way (in addition to Leaving Cert) to get to College. I didn't do very well.
JMJ looked great for someone who is 60 years of age later this year. He had three other musicians playing with him. He explained at the start that he played all instruments on the Oxygene album himself using eight-track recording machines. In order to replicate the sound, he would have needed eight hands - hence his three helpers!
All the instruments used, mostly keyboards and synthesisers, were analogue devices - though he didn't say they were all from the 1970's. He did say that you can only get the gear second hand nowadays. I counted 30 separate keyboards! The stage looked like a setting from an old science fiction movie. Lots of knobs and switches - not a computer or any digital device in sight. JMJ moved around each to create the electronic sounds that were very futuristic back in 1977. It was great to see all this old gear in use.
Each part of Oxygene (I to VI) was played without interruption - the first round of applause was at the end. I had listened to the whole album in my iPod earlier in the day to get in the mood - the concert reproduced the album faithfully as far as I could tell.
Midway during the concert, a giant mirror was lowered from above the stage so that the audience had an "aerial" view of the stage - a bit like the picture on the back of the Oxygene album. Fantastic!
For an encore, JMJ played a piece on his own - I would have preferred Oxygene Part IV. Overall, a fantastic concert that I thoroughly enjoyed. Continuer à jouer de la musique Jean-Michel!