I first posted about it when I placed the order in November last year. The release was delayed and at one stage there was going to be a cut down version. Thankfully it’s been well worth waiting for as this version includes the full concert, DVD extras + CD audio disc version.
After an initial viewing and watching the “making of” documentary my first impression is if you have an interest in Jarre, China or AV production you just have to see it. It looks and sounds fantastic:
Originally shot for high definition TV, the DVD transfer looks fantastic.
A 5.1 surround sound system was used at the concert venue and is on DVD in both DTS and Dolby Digital formats. The music was written, or older pieces re-arranged, for surround sound. The sound you hear is what the audience heard live as they set up a surround sound system at the venue.
The DVD uses THX Mastering, a first for a music DVD, and the results are superb.
The main concert was held in Beijing’s Forbidden City with a shorter second performance in Tian’Anmen Square. In the intermission you see JMJ being transferred between stages in a motorcycle sidecar. The Tian’Anmen Square location is poignant as some of the artists featured in the concert, and one planned to perform but later prevented from appearing or even attending, were involved in the 1989 Student Protests. JMJ comments, in the “making of” video, that China today is very different to the China he visited 25 years ago but it’s apparent there is still a long way to go. The heavy hand of the government and military are still evident (this article has more on that).
My favourite tracks are reprises from the 24 year old “Concerts In China” album. “Fishing Junks at Sunset” and “Souvenir of China” combine JMJ electronic sounds with the 260 strong traditional Chinese and Western orchestra. The opening, from Aero, is an acoustic barrage from the orchestra which has just become my surround sound demo disc…
The staging includes inflated fabric structures acting as screens for video art related to the music while complex lighting illuminates the stage and surrounding buildings. No fireworks, unusual for Jarre, I presume because of the venue. The total budget was reported to be 4 million euros. The size of the venue limited the live (invited) audience to 16,000 but one billion watched the live TV broadcast!
In October Jean-Michel Jarre performed the first outdoor concert in the world to be entirely in 5.1 Dolby surround. This article has some interesting background on the event staged in Beijing's Forbidden City.
Article - Jean-Michel Jarre In BeijingFrench Electro and Chinese Tradition in Dolby Surround Beijing, 11 October 2004 - Jean-Michel Jarre, one of the nation's most sucessful musical exports of all time, marked the inauguration of the "Year of France" in China with a mega-show in Beijing's Forbidden City on 10 October. Chinese fans were captivated by JMJ's unexpected mix of musical styles and techniques. RFI Musique scaled the Great Wall of China to report... By: Abel Ségrétin Translation: Julie Street RFI Musique
I found the DVD is available for pre-order from Amazon UK with release planned for December 6, 2004 but then found the content is subject to some change. Still listed as a TWIN disc DVD on Amazon according to www.jarreuk.com it will be reduced to single disc release with a cut down track listing and fewer "extras". They have a direct email contact to JMJ/Warner to voice your concerns about this. See the news article "JEAN MICHEL JARRE FANS: URGENT HELP NEEDED!!!" I have it on pre-order but would like to see the twin disc version I ordered released - even if it means a delay.