[Review] Jean-Michel Jarre in Concert / Houston-Lyon (1987)

A feast for the senses and a feat for the record books, spread out across two cities on two continents.

Kronomyth 9.0: Giant Michel Jarre.

Lights pierced the sky, film projectors painted hundred-foot images on office buildings, fireworks exploded from the tops of skyscrapers like metal volcanoes. In this jungle of steel and glass loomed the great Godzoolook, trampling convention and good taste, shooting strange sonic fire from his fingertips that left the cities of Houston and Lyon awash in an orgy of electronic media.

Snippets of radio chatter make for a very small audio-documentary of the event and give a glimpse into the confusion and excitement around the Houston concert. Side One features the excerpted Houston show, with a single performance from each of his first five proper studio albums. The Texans are by turns left speechless (“Ethnicolor”) and ecstatic (“Chants Magnetiques I”), though you’re left wondering if they really ever knew what hit them.

The Lyon concert on side two features an abridged performance of his last album, Rendez-Vous. Why the two venues weren’t reversed, I couldn’t tell you; perhaps the wounds were still too fresh. The Lyon audience is polite, enthusiastic, as a solemn benediction from the Pope replaces the anarchic street-level scene of side one.

With an orchestra, eight-piece band and monstrous staging, what we’re witnessing may be the height of Jean-Michel Jarre’s powers, yet much is lost in the single-elpee shrinking of this fairy tale from two cities. Concerts en Chine remains the definitive live set for me: new material and two elpees show the magnitude of Jarre’s visit to China. By contrast, Houston/Lyon is over in a flash, Jarre and his cirque de la soiree all but a memory by morning. A video disc of the concerts would be an order of magnitude more interesting, since these concerts were designed to be seen as much as heard.

Original elpee version

A1. Oxygene V (1:17)
A2. Ethnicolor (9:31)
A3. Magnetic Fields I (4:10)
A4. Souvenir (of China) (3:13)
A5. Equinoxe V (3:18)
B1. Rendez-Vous III (Harpe Laser) (3:29)
B2. Rendez-Vous II (10:38)
B3. Ron’s Piece (4:16)
B4. Rendez-Vous IV (3:54)

Composed and conducted by Jean-Michel Jarre.

The Players

Jean-Michel Jarre (synthesizers), Guy Delacroix (bass), Sylvain Durand (keyboards and synthesizers), Michel Geiss (synthesizers), Joe Hammer (drums), Pascal Lebourg (keyboards and synthesizers), Dominique Perrier (keyboards and syntheiszers), Francis Rimbert (keyboards and synthesizers) with Children Choir of La Cigale de Lyon, Christine Durand (soprano), female voices of Le Cantrel de Lyon, The High School for the Performing Arts (choir), Dino Lumbroso (percussion), musicians of l’Orchestre National de Lyon, musicians of l’Opera de Lyon, The Singing Boys of Houston (choir), Christian Wagner (choir director), Kirk Whalum (alto sax). Produced by Jean-Michel Jarre; engineered and mixed by Michel Geiss and Denis Vanzetto.

The Pictures

Artwork by Pastelle Paris – Paint Box Mikros Images. Photos by Ph. De Selliers, A. de Wildenberry, Peter Montain, Ph. Jackson, Daniel Simon.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc in July 1987 in France (Polygram, 833 126-1/4/2), the UK (Polydor, POLH-36) and Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Germany and Portugal (Polydor, 833 170-1/4/2). Reached #18 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc On September 1, 1993 in France (Dreyfus, DRE 36147).

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