To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oxygene (released in 1976), Jean Michel Jarre has gone intimate, and, to help him get the most out of his retro instruments, his FOH engineer, Alain Courieux, is using a DiGiCo D5 Live digital mixing console.
He’s played live to a record breaking 3.5 million people in Moscow. Two billion people tuned in to see him bring in the new Millennium with the great pyramids as a backdrop. But last November, Jean Michel Jarre released a special anniversary live version of Oxygene. The celebration continues this year as Jarre has planned some very special concerts — including the Royal Albert Hall on March 30 — in which he’ll be performing Oxygene in its entirety. The French composer, performer and producer has only ever played excerpts in concert, never the whole piece.
“I decided to do this because when I first recorded Oxygene, I more or less did it in my kitchen,” said Jarre. “I was recording on a very, very old eight-track tape recorder at the time. Each time I looked at the machine, I would say to myself that one day I should record this piece of music properly.
“Then, with the evolution of technology and the explosion of high definition for television and audio five years ago, I decided that it was time. I got out the old vintage synthesisers, and was absolutely amazed by the sound and the quality of those instruments that we almost all forgot about somewhere in the ’80s. They have such a special texture, such a special colour. They really are collector items, the equivalent of the Telecaster or the Les Paul Gibson of the ’60s, or the Stradivarius for classic music. They are part of the mythology of electronic music.”
Jarre has decided to put these 50 or 60 instruments on stage and perform Oxygene as if it’s a futuristic classical concert, but in truly classical venues. These venues are quite unusual for him as they are small, with between 1,000 to 3,000 seats — very far removed from the millions of people he is used to performing to.
“For that, we need a very special sound because these very warm analogue machines are like old ladies,” said Jarre, “and we need accurate and sophisticated equipment to get the right sound in the unusual venues for this type of music.”
To achieve this sound, a DiGiCo D5 Live console was chosen by Jarre’s FOH engineer Alain Courieux, who has more than 30 years’ experience in live sound engineering, studio recording, sound design and audio consultancy. Courieux explained: “I use a lot of the internal effects contained in the console. So the external effects rack consists of just a Lexicon 480L reverb and an SSL stereo compressor.”
“I’m really glad to work with DiGiCo and this fantastic equipment that they provide,” continued Jarre. “I think that the timeless warmth and the texture of the old analogue instruments teamed with the up-to-date digital sound technology is great. Not only for the PA systems, but also to eventually record the whole piece for film and for live projects.
“It’s absolutely ideal and we are delighted with it. I’m sure that the D5 is going to perform very well. To match this on stage is my next plan.”
Courieux is looking forward to the rest of the tour that kicks off in March. “The tour will see us use two DiGiCo D5 consoles, and the monitors and in-ear system will be driven with a CS-D5.”