(‘Bells’. Twelve Dreams of the Sun. Gizeh, 2000).
10… 9… 8… Countdown in Houston; Jean Paul II blesses from Lyon’s cathedral; persistent rain in London’s Docklands; 2,5 million people in La Défense; fireworks in Wembley Stadium; a squad of Sukhoi jets flying over Moscow University; Gizeh multicoloured… it starts to play Oxygéne IV and, behind dark glasses, smoke and lasers, appears Jarre.
(Oxygéne IV. Paris La Défense, 1991).
Portable keyboards, lightning keyboards, a laser harp, a theremin, giant screens, fireworks. A fusion of music, images and architecture. Jean Michel Jarre, a synonim of show, grandiosity, megalomany. Lover of big numbers: he was the first western musician to play in the China post-Mao and he has surpassed himself three times in the Guinnes Book of Records, because the audience of his concerts is counted by millions.
First it was Oxygéne. Then came Equinoxe, Magnetic Fields, Zoolook (the album the compact disc was invented for, said the advertisements). With each work Jarre opened new ways in the electronic music, reinvented it, overtook everyone. From analog to digital, inspiration in every sound: the rain in the window, a clock ticking, a distant train…
(Chronologie part 3. Europe in Concert. Barcelone, 1993).
In 1986, rendez-vous in Houston. The most spectacular concert in history, they said. 1.5 million spectators to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the city and the 25th birthday of NASA. Ron McNair, astronaut and sax player was expected to play a theme from space during the show. His ship was called ‘Challenger’… And the show transformed into a tribute to all of the crew. Electronic music wasn’t a reduced field for experimenting anymore and reached millions of people.
(‘Rendez-vous part 4’. Rendez-Vous Houston, 1986).
London, Paris, Moscow, Athens, they all danced to the sounds of this french man, son of Maurice, well-known composer to whom a fortune teller forecasted: “You will be famous, but you’ll have a son who will be even more famous than you”.
(‘Industrial Revolution-Overture’. London Docklands, 1988).
But Jarre is more than just music. In 1993 he was appointed UNESCO’s Good Will Ambassador, defending tolerance through music’s universal languaje: to do so, he dressed with colours the Eiffel Tower (1995) and the dunes of Merzouga (Morocco, 2006).
(‘Intro Saturée’. Water for Life. Merzouga, 2006).
Close to fans and the press, regular in french magazines because of his affairs with actresses: divorced from Charlotte Rampling, he’s been partner with Isabelle Adjani and is married to Anne Parrillaud. Is it relevant? It seems so. Since he divorced, his career turned from the epic grandilocuence of Chronologie and his first tour across Europe (from Mont Saint Michel to the Olympic Stadium in Barcelone), to the electro-acoustic minimalism of Metamorphoses and a tour of small indoor shows.
His subsequent albums are available only in France. Geometry of Love or Sessions 2000 are known only to fans. Time of silence, rumors over the Internet, something big is coming. And arrives Aero (2002): it is presented as the first album conceived and recorded in digital 5.1 format. The classic themes (because this album is a compilation, although it includes three new tracks) from a totally new perspective. New album and return to China, to the Forbidden City: live 5.1 sound.
(‘Aero’. Live from the Forbidden City. Beijing, 2002).
And in 2007 Jarre returns to his origins, to the root of everything, to analog synthesizers (his old ladies) and to Oxygéne, which is thirty years old as if time didn’t go by and go out across Europe: Téâtre Marigny in Paris, the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Liceu in Barcelone… The most elegant venues of Manchester, Dublin, Brussels, Munich, Amsterdam, Copenhague, Stockolm, Lisbon, Porto, Rome, Milano… They all shined with Jean Michel’s music during the longest tour of his career, that continued to East Europe (Belgrade, Bucharest, Prague, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Riga, Bratislava, Warsaw…).
(‘Oxygéne part VI’. Oxygéne Tour. Barcelone, 2008).
Some people say he’s finished, that he lives off the past. Others still wait to be surprised. But one thing is for sure: the light did dance.