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Review: Jean-Michel Jarre brings Electronica to the O2 (Includes first-hand account)

Known for his groundbreaking music and spectacular live shows, Jean-Michel Jarre is currently on tour in the UK for the first time in six years. “The UK is my second home, Brexit or no Brexit!” announced the superstar, who released the second part of his collaborative Electronica project earlier this year.

Raised up on a platform behind his keyboard and other equipment, the well-preserved 68 year old was flanked by two other musicians who played a variety of instruments (including the drums simultaneously) and provided backing vocals.

The light show, as ever, was imaginative and well presented. “I’m probably the only Frenchman who understands cricket and likes it,” he continued. Making a reference to his rain-soaked outdoor spectacle at the nearby Docklands in 1988, Jarre added: “We took the option of having a roof this time!”

“Heart of Noise,” the opening track on Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise and “Automatic (Part 2),” a duet with Vince Clarke from last year’s Electronica 1: The Time Machine, preceded the sentiments, while “Oxygène 2,” off seminal album Oxygène, was the first ‘oldie’ of the evening.

I felt the whole row of seats start to shake as people bobbed up and down energetically to “Circus” (a duet with Berlin-based artist Siriusmo) from Electronica 2. Edward Snowdon was praised (“We need more people like him,” said Jarre) and appeared on a giant video screen during a spirited rendition of the pair’s recent collaboration, “Exit.”

Jarre explained that he’d worked with a number of British acts on the Electronica albums, one of whom was the Pet Shop Boys. The unmistakeable voice of Neil Tennant was then heard as the song “Brick England” was played.

Just as the proceedings were starting to flag a little, the synth pioneer brought many in the venue to their feet – there was also a sudden increase in the number of camera phones in the air – with “Oxygène 4,” probably his best known piece. “Equinoxe 4” was also warmly received.

The last song in the main set saw Jarre tackle the laser harp (an act he described as “one of the tricky moments of the evening”) on “The Time Machine.”

Coming back out for the encore, the innovative musician spoke about his forthcoming album, Oxygène 3, set for release in December and timed to mark 40 years since the very first Oxygène LP wowed listeners all over the world.

“It’s funny, as we’re in the O2,” he remarked, referring to oxygen’s chemical symbol. The track he opted to showcase from the upcoming offering was “Oxygène 17.”

Jean-Michel Jarre live on stage in London

Jean-Michel Jarre live on stage in London

Having started at around 8.35pm, the show was winding up around 10.10pm, I believe to give people the chance to get home. “Trains run all night on the Jubilee Line,” Jarre assured us, before giving his appreciative audience “one for the road” – “Stardust,” his melodic duet with Dutch maestro Armin van Buuren.

“Stardust” is my favourite tune from the Electronica project, the gig was outstanding and not overly long – and I caught my last train home. Happy times.

For more on Jean-Michel Jarre, visit his official website.

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