on 8 June 2005
Due to a hassle with old record companies and somesuch, Jean-Michel Jarre's concerts on DVD haven't been released, except for Oxygen in Moscow. However, now with Warner Music Jarre has managed to release a DVD from his concert in Beijing from October 2004... after a long wait, we finally have the full concert(s) on DVD among with extras.
The concerts itself... they were superb audiovisually, but the tracklisting has indeed been repetitive for years, and the tracks performed sound too much like from the Aero album and post-2000 concert renditions. The chinese input on few tracks added a lot of atmosphere and great feeling to them, 'Journey to Beijing' was absolutely fantastic, maybe the highlight of the whole concert. Then again, the chinese child pronouncing chinese words was a nice input, but seemed out of the place. For the DVD some faults which were in the actual concert were removed, for example Chronologie 3's beginning was completely revamped, and I for one think in a positive way. Unfortunately, the off-note solo in Rendez-Vous 2 was still there... The second concert at Tiananmen seemed a bit weak and short, and Oxygene 13 sounded exactly the same as in his previous concerts. Also, Jarre could return to the old and good "band"-arrangement, as it was sometimes hard to watch him trying to play all parts of the songs at the same time. Especially when he didn't actually play them, they were either played by Rimbert or sequenced, perhaps even totally playback. The orchesra, choir and other performers performed totally live, though. For the concert itself, I'd give 3 stars out of five.
The DVD itself is good, much better than Sony's rushed up Oxygen in Moscow (which is also about to be rereleased). The documents on the second disc were entertaining to watch, but the other extras were a bit lacking. For example, the biography could have had more information accessible about them. I'd also give these extras 3 stars out 5.
The extra CD... I can't see any reason why it was there. A small booklet about Jarre and the event would have been better, or something else...
Sound was superb as always and video was clear and crispy. Shortly, they were excellent.
This DVD set isn't perfect, but this is definately a high-quality product. For a Jarre fan, it is a must buy, even if you haven't liked his works from last few years. But if you're not a Jarre fan, I would have to say this DVD isn't going to make you any more fan or get interested of his music, unless you're still tolerant and not stubborn against electronic music, or rather Jarre's music in general.
on 29 June 2005
The main problem with this event was the lack of anything special. Ever since the fog tragically spoiled his millennium concert in Egypt, Jarre seemed to have reduced his efforts to make his events truly memorable.
The music is almost a complete copy of Jarre's latest album, Aero without anything radical happening to the music. Jarre seems to have abandoned any reworking or remixing of his tracks. It's not very interesting to listen to if you have the albums. His album from 2000, "Metamorphoses" has many superb pieces that are constantly ignored in concert.
It's extremely dull to watch at times with Jarre looking bored and clearly not playing anything live (apart from the Theremin, midi flute, and an effects pad). I would be happy if he just played a solo over the top of the main melody but it's clearly obvious to anyone that his playing doesn't match up to the notes in certain places.
Take a look at the remix track in Tian'anmen that he plays on. Great to see him getting the crowd clapping but then realises he was supposed to play something at that point. The second concert in Tian'anmen square could have been historic. OK so he's the first musician to play live on the square but it's hardly memorable, the choice of tracks are completely uninspiring.
The live CD that comes with it is a waste of time. Who wants to listen to "Fishing Junks at Sunset" when you could have "Voyage to Beijing" (unreleased) on CD? Lame.
So, let's get back to: a live band on stage, a new tracklisting, with properly reworked music, a happy jarre getting the crowd going. This just seems like a "show" rather than a concert.
on 4 May 2006
I have to agree with the other reviews, the technical quality of the DVD is fantastic. The picture is clear, the sound is totally fantastic especially through a THX compliant amp.
The opening two trakcs, and Souviner (track 19) are very solid performances however it does look like someone just killed his puppy! He doesn't look too pleased to be there, however if you read his biography he talks about his visits to China and they do take their concerts more seriously. The opening night of his original Hong Kong performance the audience didn't even clap !
He smiles a couple of times into someone in the audience, but the heart seems to have gone. I am still rating it 4 out of 5 due to the technical quality of the production and the sound quality.
on 24 June 2005
I have to echo the other reviewers comments. If you're a fan, I know you'll buy this anyway - I did. But each time I see another JMJ concert, I realise how little of it (if anything) is actually played live.
Mostly, we have JMJ pretending to trigger sounds with pads (often completely out of sync with the music) and some keyboard playing that looks dubiously as if it is only for show - and what the hell is he bashing a cymbal for (it isn't mic'd up and shows no sign of being a trigger device. I guess that he puts the tapes together (or plunders the tracks from his Aero project) in his studio before venturing out. Maybe they're sequenced - who knows?
Anyway, this is not new - I doubt much has been played "live" since his 1979 Paris concerts.
What gets me is that this has never been a problem as the spectacle of the shows has been completely overwhelming - utterly superb....until this one. As other reviewers note, there is little innovative here. It all comes over as being a pretty suburban affair.
The bonuses are good, though, but JMJ is clearly telling porkies much of the time (he claims a new track, when anyone with even a vaguely musical ear can tell it's from metamorphose) - which I think shows remarkable contempt for the listener. In short he just comes off as a bit of a phoney - which strangely belittles his huge contributions to the musical world.
I would love to see other JMJ concerts packaged in the same way. At least the contents would deserve it.
PS if the original feeds for the Paris and Docklands concerts could be recovered and re-cut to avoid the infantile cut/cut/cut and lousy rolling video effects - that'd be just grand.
I can only echo the comments of the earlier reviewer from Nice, the gist of which is that this is a superb DVD, but the concert itself did not deserve such treatment.
The picture and sound is as good as you would expect from a THX-certified disc. Even on my very much non-THX equipment it sounds fantastic, and looks beautiful. I found the audio CD to be fine as well, even though it was only half the show.
The problem was with the dullness of the show compared to some of the earlier epic productions. There was a full orchestra and chorus, but no band to speak of, just Jarre and one or two others milling around. Considering that the Chinese are famous for having invented gunpowder, the total lack of fireworks was nothing short of amazing, and the light show was positively pedestrian. The concept of having giant geometric shapes, with projections onto them was a good one, and is very effective, but its not enough and gets tired pretty quickly.
There were some positive aspects - the use of chinese instruments and the way they were integrated into pieces was a delight, but aside from one singer in a strange costume being extended 10 metres into the air there was no spectacle. The backdrop was the fantastic Forbidden City, but that was mostly obscured by drapes - surely one of the biggest missed opportunities ever.
I would love to have a disc of this clarity showing the Docklands show, with the fireworks and burning building effect, of the La defense show with the giant exoskeleton costumes, but at least this film had a more mature approach to editing and direction than the constant cuts and jumps of the videos to those concerts. I didn't catch the credits, but I think its safe to say that Mike Mansfield was not allowed to butcher this show.
The second disc features a pared-down concert in Tianenmen Square - pared down in length and in scale: almost a club concert for Jarre and the nearest to human scale I have ever seen him performing.
This set is worth it for the chance to hear the music played in glorious surround - although you can get that from Aero - and the documentary and audio CD are useful bonus items and if one of his more visually entertaining shows got this treatment it would be a guaranteed 5 stars.
on 3 May 2007
I've been a fun of Jarre's music since my childhood, but I never really had the equipment to listen to his music under "hi-end" conditions. It was though obvious that he was not only a talanted artist, but also a perfectionist on the way he was delivering the musical experience to his audience.
This DVD-CD box is a "must-have" for anyone who likes music and owns a proper 5.1 speaker system. The concert was actually PLAYED on 5.1; those lucky people in Beijin listened to the whole concert in actual 5.1 sound, and also experienced the magical atmosphere of the scenery set in front of the forbitten city.
If the multi-channel sound was created in order to make us hear&feel more when the music we love, this DVD has absolutely achieved this target.
A true masterpiece!
on 18 September 2005
As a big fan of Jarre's work for more than 25 years I had high hopes for the man's first dedicated DVD release. I found the release technically outstanding but artistically stagnant.
As has, unfortunately, become the norm with Jarre's shows there is very little movement and, unlike his earlier great videos, such as 'La Defense', the camera work does not compensate, being very static and lacking editorial rhythm. Some, but not many, of my favourite pieces were performed here, but even they seemed tired and uninvolving. Oxygene IV lacked the fun of the recent Aero concert reinterpretation and Rendezvous II lacked any of the power or warm of the Houston show. Even the barnstorming Rendezvous IV sounded decidedly pedestrian with the over subtle orchestration.
Has concentration on the minuti meant that Jarre has lost the fire in his heart? I hope not.
I would suggest that this is a DVD for only the true Jarre fans..even though they will already have seen better performances of the majority of this material at other events. For the uninitiated..I would suggest waiting for the much anticipated compilation of his best live performances.
on 10 June 2005
At long last, what Jarre fans have been waiting for years and years has finally seen the light of day. A real Jarre DVD package, 2 discs and even with a audio CD too. However, sadly, it is probably one of the worse Jarre shows anyone could have choosen to put onto digital format.
There is no question that both the image and sound quality are top notch, the first music DVD to get THX accrediation too. This reminds you that Jarre can still be a leader in his field, rather than a follower, which he has been for a number of years now. The presentation on the DVD is solid if rather unspectacular, but is a shame there is no Easter Eggs on here, that would of been fun, but that is just a small critique.
But onto the concert, what can be said? I will say now I was not at the event personally, I know fans who were, and they will disagree with what I will say. It just looks - well, how can you put it politely. Dull? Uninspired? Mechanical? Watching the members of Kraftwerk on stage is more exciting than this (not criticising Kraftwerk either, their 2004 live show was superb).
Beijing is just so disappointing. Jarre looks like he can not smile else he will need to change his trousers... The stage set-up is poor, a lot of empty space. A lack of a band on-stage, again, but it sounds like a band is playing. How can that be possible? I wonder...
The track list, yet again, is uninspired. The opening of the concert is described by Jarre as a 'new piece' (during the audio commentary). Well that is weird, since I have heard it on his last 'real' studio album, Metamorphoses, albeit in a different form. But I have even heard the same version live with my own ears both in Giza and Athens. It is these kind of comments which makes Jean Michel Jarre less and less credible. However, back to the track list, even a new track premiered at Athens in 2001 has had it's name changed for China and is billed as a new track. I better not mention this is another recycling hack from Metamorphoses... It either smacks of desperation, being uninspired or plain laziness. You expect greatest hits to be played, of course, but some of the tracks chosen seemed to be performed due to convinence rather than any artistic choice behind their inclusion.
Even the inflatable screens on stage, a great idea, but the projections? It is the year of France in China, and this show is opening the festivities - it is not a Parisian tourism promotion campaign. France is a country steeped in culture - I know, I live there. Why not focus on this rather have a bouncing Eiffel Tower or spinning Arc de Triomphe? I guess we should be thankful he did not project Euro Disney... Else the screens are drapped in one colour, why? What a wasted opportunity, since the projections could have been stunning.
The extras on the DVD slightly make up for the main offering, a good documentary is included, well worth watching. You do see Jarre annoyed at a lot of aspects, and although it is not great to see him go through a number of issues like he had to, it is good to see he still has the signs of being rebellious against authority and getting his point across. I wished he showed this hunger and drive in his recent compositions and performances. There is also a photo gallery, which is fine.
However the audio CD should make a nice coaster. It is worse than any other Jarre CD, making the Docklands live CD a masterpiece. I dont know who had to edit and master the CD, but it must of been their first job or they were ill on the day. It is dreadful. As one friend put it to me, it sounds like the CD has music 'missing' and it has not been mastered correctly.
Alone for the picture and sound quality, and the documentary, I can give this three stars. I think any other concert by Jarre given this five star vip treatment and I would be giving five stars myself. You can choose from virtually any Jarre concert and it would make a better package than Beijing. Paris La Defense, Europe in Concert, Concert for Tolerance, Oxygen in Moscow, The Twelve Dreams of the Sun or even Akropolis would be so much better.
Still, at least this is a step in the right direction in choosing to release a package like this - just choose a better concert next time, if there is a next time?
on 6 June 2005
Have watched this DVD and all I can say really is WOW...
This has to be watched to be believed, words are no good, I fully recommend any Jarre fans to purchase this package asap...
The quality is fantastic, the sound is crisp throughout and the picture quality is brilliant, HDTV is the way all concerts should be released in the future. All we can really hope for now is some past shows to be remastered and released in this format...
on 28 July 2009
This concert has really good picture, and sound quality, but the problems with this concert is that its just boring. Jarre plays new versions of old songs,and doing so , makes them lose their original sound, which i loved so much. Watched this concert, the day i got it in the mail, but after 30 minutes,I was shocked to find out how boring it is. If you want one dvd, buy live in your living room. that is one that you MUST have!