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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

JEAN MICHEL JARRE: Cities In Concert Houston-Lyon (1997)

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Houston / Lyon is a strong live album where Jarre redefines the nature of EM and outdoor events

1 Oxygene (Part 5) 1:30

2 Ethnicolor 11:41

3 Chants Magnetiques, Magnetic Fields I8:11

4 Souvenir De Chine  5:37

5 Equinoxe (Part 5) 6:01

6 Rendez-Vous III (Laser Harp) 3:54

7 Equinoxe (Part 7) 5:29

8 Wooloomooloo 3:22

9 Rendez-Vous II 11:54

10 Ron´s Piece 6:35

11 Rendez-Vous IV 7:01

Epic | EPC 487377 2

(CD 71:00) (V.F.)

(Cosmic French School)

Here's by what Jean-Michel Jarre became gradually the contemporary mercenary of EM. Despite his huge concert at Place de la Concorde and in China, which were a little less extravaganzas, the Jarre machine was in its first weapons in the scenic art. But no matter! That is to Jarre's team that the management of the 150 years anniversary of the Texas state and also of the NASA's 25th birthday have given the responsibility to organize a great outdoor event. And what an event it turned out to be! A mega concert full of pitfalls in the cowboy's countries and in the land of Country music. A concert given in the stride of Rendez-Vous and which will be broadcast at the grandeur of the state and beyond. A first VHS tape, with a more documentary style, will came out of it, showing all the excessiveness of an event that will mark the Texans for decades to come. During the same year, the synth wizard will also give a concert, of a less grandeur, for the visit of the pope in Lyon on October 5th. This HOUSTON/LYONS CD is a brief summary of these 2 events.

What is to say about a live album except that J-M. Jarre returns the interpretation of his music aptly with a colossal band. An orchestra and huge choirs, necessary due to the orchestrations of Rendez-Vous and of the multiple heterogeneous and rhythmic tones of Zoolook. I kind of like a lot the way of approaching the event with a documentary touch like on Oxygene V. An unusual way that dips us again in the mood of a concert which has an equal only the American immoderation, if we were lucky enough at that time to watch the shows via different pay TV stations. Because, and it's an importance nuance here, it's quite important to remember this time when these concerts took place. J-M. Jarre did redefine the outdoors events with stunning visual effects on buildings and great laser shows which will arouse a crown totally blown away. And this even if most of the spectators or viewers didn't know a thing about JMJ' music. Thus, the French synthesist took all the necessary measures to give an amazing show, to say the least in Texas (I didn't see the Lyon show). The setlist is great. I like the way that each track is tied to another in a new sonic dimension. Some people will say that Concerts in China possesses a warmer and more intimist music and this is completely true. Because HOUSTON/LYONS has nothing of intimist. The music is colder. Numeric and digital age oblige! And J-M. Jarre is at his top of this digital era and his band interprets with an incredible precision some extracts of Rendez-Vous (needs to admit that the interpretations are colossal), besides the stunning Ethnicolor which is cut of its most beautiful asset.

Some known tracks are revamped by a well done digital sauce, giving so to Magnetic Fields I and Equinox V an air of youth without distorting the first version. Even the enigmatic Souvenir De Chine breathes of a new life in these modernized ambiences. But all in all, it's a total bombast returned with an authenticity which depicts marvellously the disproportionate atmospheres which was the privilege of the cultural drunkenness of the spectators. Obviously, everything is not perfect. The tracks are shortened, to fill adequately the LP and this is a thing that has displeased royally to fans who notice that the video, or the TV recording of the Houston performance, lasted more than 60 minutes. So where was the rest of the music? But bootleggers saw the lure of gain and tones of false VHS tapes and recordings invade the market. Just recall that both concerts were on separate vinyl albums at the time. Now both shows, still incomplete, are on one CD. But still the question is in the air: Why not a double live CD, like Concerts in China? But fans will still be snivel. That's our nature.

But all in all, HOUSTON/LYONS is a pretty solid live album. More complete with an exceptional sound quality which brings more brightness to a grand concert which would be the first one of a big series of outdoor concerts that will soon become the signature of J-M. Jarre. It's a live album which has the merit to have a sonic punch which exceeds any live concerts of EM since, except those of Jean-Michel Jarre of course. A must!

Sylvain Lupari (January 8th, 2014) *****

Available at Groove nl

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