Live Reviews

Air @ Forum, London

16 March 2007

Jean Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin cut dashing silhouettes as theystrode on to the stage. Dressed head to toe in white, including some eye poppingly tight jeans they oozedFrench nonchalance.

Looking like two luminous stick figures in amongst a sea of blackequipment which included Moog Synthezisers, a Korg MSZO, a Wurlitzer and aVocoder, they bashfully greeted the crowd, while the audience’s mobile phonescreens glowed like fire flies flickering in the darkness just beyond thefootlights.

But the anticipation of capturing this enigmatic duo on camera wanedquickly due to the fact that the first five songs were so utterly dull.Even if each involved a guitar change, it felt like these Frenchmen werejust shrugging the crowd off and going through the motions.

The choice of openers was distinctly lacklustre and Air seemed more than just a littlealoof and disinterested in the proceedings which began to be reflected inthe audience’s attention span.

Look for Air in your local record store and you will find them filedunder ambient chill out and formuch of the gig the packed out Forum was hardly rapt and people casuallychatted amongst themselves much as they would had Air been playing on thestereo in their lounge. In fact so at home did people feel, and so insidiouswas Air’s soporific sounds, that one guy in front of me dozed off and ended upkeeling over into the aisle, and I too found myself yawning and craving my duvet by the end of the 90 minute set.

It took this inimitable duo a while to move away from their more docilerepertoire and give the crowd the Moon Safari hits that essentially made themthe second best French musical export since Serge Gainsbourg. Moon Safarihad bite, verve and energy and the pairsuddenly looked alive, toe tapping and smiling as they reincarnated theseriffs, rather than simply on auto pilot.

Cherry Blossom Girl, off the 2004 album Talkie Walkie, was also anotherpeople pleaser, but it was Safari’s eerie Talisman, the unforgettable refrainof Sexy Boy, and the electronic magnificence of Kelly Watch the Stars thatreally pulled Air and the audience out of their catatonia.

I have never been to another gig that sapped my life force as much as thisFriday night at the Forum with these pioneers of electronica. It was as ifall the air had been sucked outof the room, reducing the excited punters to a weary post-work crowd.

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More on Air
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Air @ Somerset House, London
Air – Love 2
Air @ Forum, London
Air @ Royal Festival Hall, London