Monday, 18 October 2010

Riot soundtrack

France looks set to face civil unrest, the like of which the country has not seen for decades.

The Senate are likely to vote on Wednesday on pension reforms, and on Tuesday another day of widespread protest is going to happen. So far we're already seen angry scenes in places like Nanterre, and images of police in riot gear, masked protesters, banners and the inevitable tear gas and clouds of smoke.

It's probably as serious as I can remember, and it's uncertain where it will end. If the vote goes through, things may escalate on both sides, Sarko's allies seeing a victory as permission to continue with their programme, their opponents no doubt upping their demands and their activities.

All in all pretty bleak, with battle positions being reinforced on both sides and a long campaign looking certain.

So what is the soundtrack for this unrest? Well, this is at number one in France at the moment...

I suspect I won't be waiting long for someone with more time than I have to edit the song with the inevitable riot footage...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Jarre 101010 streaming

For those that missed it, Jean-Michel Jarre streamed live his gig from the London O2 on Sunday night. A great reminder of the Glasgow gig the week before.

Quality of the video was not bad, I reckon the stylised graphics etc were intended to show it was more of a web event and not intended to be comparable quality to a DVD, but given that there was a streaming of around 2 hours and several thousand watching live, it was pretty smooth.

Sound quality was a different matter, and it was top notch. Reckon the sound was the priority with the streaming and it certainly worked.

Obviously it raises the issue of why other artists don't do the same kind of thing. It's probably easy enough to do these days, and could be a source of extra revenue for the touring musician if that's what they want to do, or a way of spreading their music a bit further than just in the concert hall.

Again, Jarre goes ahead of the rest and throws down the challenge, and at the same time continues to pioneer making his music available to those who want to hear it for free. The concert tickets were not cheap, and probably that put a few folks off going given the troubled economy we live in, but Jarre gives them the chance to catch a show. Good work.

The stream is still available to watch here;

Would it have been nice to watch it while listening on a Jarre Technologies aerosystem1? You bet it would have been!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Stromae - Alors, on danse..

Resistance was probably useless. Not that it needed any, given that it's a pretty decent tune. Stromae's Alors on danse has been the biggest French language hit in the UK for years, reaching number one in the official singles chart, higher in the specialist dance charts.

It got pretty heavy rotation on MTV dance here which no doubt helped, but its success is probably more due to it coming back from Ibiza where UK listeners probably first heard it. It's been massive in every other country in Europe all summer, somehow it was inevitable it would come here, although given the UK's reticence to embrace anything in a foreign language as far as music all bets were off.

Dance music is effortlessly international. True, the lack of lyrics help, but this tune is more lyrical that most dance numbers, close to the likes of Faithless in the vocal delivery. Cool, low key, sophisticated. The French language is perfect, no version anglaise required.

Post-summer European songs that became hits in the UK were traditionally awful. The Macarena? You get the picture. We live in better times.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Gainsbourg - Qui est 'In'

Love this little Gainsbourg clip, you have to marvel at 60s music TV. What they lacked in budget at CGI they certainly made up with some imagination.

You can't help but think of Austin Powers as well when you watch this kind of thing, but kind of forget that they probably found it funny even back when it was made. We like to think we are smarter and cleverer than those before, and we can laugh ironically at stuff they thought was cool, but kind of forget that they probably thought it was a laugh in the first place.

You also have to admire Serge's apparent complete disinterest in performing for the TV

The song sounds more raucous than usual, almost like a garage rock band or an early Rolling Stones number than his more usual jazzy sound. Very upbeat and energetic, and a bit rough round the edges.

Only two minutes long as well, plenty packed into such a short pop song. Nice one Mr Gainsbourg!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Jean-Michel Jarre at Braehead, Glasgow

Great show at Braehead Arena in Glasgow on Sunday night by Jean-Michel Jarre, strangely the first time I'd actually got to see him. Strange because I've liked his stuff for decades, and because I well know what a big figure he is in French music.

A colleague likened him to Paul McCartney, in the size of his influence, although unlike McCartney he certainly isn't a nostalgia act and his eyes are firmly on the future.

I only recently realised - when I interviewed Jarre - that the 2010 tour was influenced by Arthur C Clarke's book. Of course, Clarke was famously influenced by Jarre when writing the 2010 book.

Jarre's an optimist, and passionate about what he does, his music and his art. We need more people like him.

Sure there could have been a bigger crowd, but given that he played Glasgow last year and the tickets were not cheap - the economic meltdown's effect on live music remains to be seen - it was a phenomenal show.

Jarre's a proper star, and while there could be accusations of self-indulgence at times, the fact that he takes what could be a fairly unengaging spectacle into something quite dynamic speaks volumes. Four blokes with keyboards could be a fairly bloodless show, and while Kraftwerk have made this into an art form, electronic music can be on the dry side and a little too close to a classical recital at times. But Jarre manages to personalise things, keeping the scale a human one despite the immensity of the spectacle and all the technology on display. This isn't music by robots, it's a remarkably human performance.

Special mention too for his tartan trousers too, he certainly made the effort to blend in to Scotland!

Of course, Jarre's done more than most to have people experience his music for nothing and to participate in the most spectacular music events for no charge. For all electronic music can be a little austere, Jarre has done more than most to popularise it and to share his art.

There are a couple of things I'd like to see though. One is Jean-Michel Jarre playing at one of the Ibiza mega clubs. More young people need to hear him. I don't think there were many folks in the crowd under 40, and I reckon some of his material would go down an absolute storm in the right environment. If I was inclined, I would set myself up as a techno DJ and play nothing but Jarre and similar artists. Would be an easy way to make a living I reckon.

The other? I'd like to see Jarre perform a large-scale outdoors show in Scotland. The Edinburgh Festival closing fireworks concert would be a useful blueprint that could be changed just a little to be a Jarre spectacular. Of course, there would have to be an occasion - perhaps to mark Scotland's Independence Day and our international recognition by France? You never know...

Here's a video from the show, quite good quality and gives an idea of what was going on. Can't see much of Jarre in the shot though, but rest assured he was having as great a time as the audience was.