Jean Michel Jarre - Jarre In China [2 DVDs and Live CD Album] 
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- Live Performance With Audio Commentary
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In 1981 Jean Michel Jarre was invited by the Chinese government to become the first western musician to perform in the Peoples Republic of China. Performing 5 concerts in Beijing and Shanghai the tour encountered numerous problems including arriving at an arena to find only one power socket and having to buy back concert tickets from stone-faced VIPs and redistribute them free to the Chinese public. October 2004 and Jarre returns to Beijing with 70 tonnes of equipment to open Chinas "Year of France" cultural exchange with an outdoor concert. Choosing a picturesque location at Wumen Gate in the Forbidden City, Jarre performed with both modern and traditional Chinese Orchestras, choir, opera singers, and several guest musicians including Chen Lin, and guitarist Patrick Rondat. Jarre was prevented from performing with Chinas Cui Jian whose songs were sung by student demonstrators in 1989.
Filmed in high definition and presented in 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital surround sound (both at the concert and on DVD) the complete concert is presented. It looks and sounds fantastic, in no small part due to the THX mastering, a first for a music DVD. Jarre makes extensive use of new photographic projections on giant 3D inflatable screens, the laser harp, Theremin, and midi flute. The music is varied but would have benefited from band musicians on stage as the music sounds all too similar to the recent "Aero" album apart from some Chinese instrumentation. Jarre looks lonely on stage and recounts a similar track listing from the last 8 years. Highlights include "Voyage to Beijing" as well as the essential "Souvenir of China" and a highly orchestrated "Rendez Vous 2." Straight after the concert in the Forbidden City, Jarre travels by motorbike through the audience to Tiananmen Sqaure where he played a small number of songs to the expectant Chinese crowd. A great idea to play a second concert, but a missed opportunity to play some better tracks like "Eldorado" or "Chronologie 4." Instead of remaking Edith Piafs "La Foule" in Chinese, a better choice might have an adaptation of Jarres own "Cest La Vie."
The package includes a photo gallery and commentary from the composer. The making-of documentary is the icing on the cake, showing how hands-on Jarre is with all aspects of production, from trimming some trees to the lighting design. The included live CD album doesnt add anything for those who have already bought the Aero album. Jarres work deserves to be on the DVD format and this is a highly presented premiere from a special event. --Colin Neal
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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).Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For my taste, that's not the "very best of..." compilation of Jean Michel Jarre's music.
But, this DVD has amazing video and sound quality and is very enjoyable any... Read more
The image and the sound are unbelievable!! very good performance.
And with THX Optimizer to configure your home cinema. Read more
What can I say other than.......WOW, what a fantastic concert, just wish I could have been there
Brilliant stuff from the master. Read more
This concert has really good picture, and sound quality, but the problems with this concert is that its just boring. Read morePublished on 28 July 2009 by A. Vikan
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. Read morePublished on 3 May 2007 by electropoper
I watched this DVD twice in 24 hours, and it is totally amazing. we know him before he came to china, and know him more and love him more after this concert. Read morePublished on 15 April 2006 by Sam Yan