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 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Oxygene, Jean Michel Jarre has gone intimate, and, to help him get the most out of his retro instruments, his Front of House engineer, Alain Courieux, is using a DiGiCo D5 Live digital mixing console.
In November 2007, Jean Michel Jarre released a special anniversary live version of his classic album, Oxygene. The celebration continues this year as Jarre has planned some very special concerts ? including the Royal Albert Hall on March 30th ? 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 - the first ever home studio," says Jean Michel 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 Eighties. 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 Sixties, or the Stradivarius for classic music. They are part of the mythology of electronic music."
Jean Michel Jarre has decided to put these 50 or 60 crazy instruments on stage and perform Oxygene like it is 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, and we need accurate and sophisticated equipment to get the right sound in the unusual venues for this type of music."
To get this sound, a DiGiCo D5 Live console was chosen. The D5 Live digital mixing system sets a completely new standard for live sound mixing. Its audio quality, convenience, simple and intuitive operation are a world apart from conventional mixing. This complete, self-contained system does away with the need for a multicore, splitters, line drivers, dynamics processors and an entire effects rack.
Alain Courieux, who has more than 30 years experience in live sound engineering, studio recording, sound design and audio consultant, is Jean Michel Jarre's sound engineer on this tour and a great proponent of DiGiCo consoles. "I used a lot of the internal effects contained in the console," says Courieux. "So the external effects rack consisted of just a Lexicon 480L reverb and an SSL stereo compressor."
Virtually every feature is there to see at a glance, or at most a single, logical fingertip press away. The four LCD touch screens present their facilities exactly as you'd expect to find them on an advanced analogue console, with instant access and a refreshing lack of menus to navigate. Packed in to the desk are powerful digital dynamics, an effects package, total recall of every function, a 38x8 output matrix, up to 128 input channel s and 40 multi-configurable internal buses.
"I'm really glad to work with DiGiCo and this fantastic equipment that they provide," continues 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," Courieux added.