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Live at the Olympia, Dublin
Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. A few tracks into Air’s stunning show at the Olympia and the redoubtable Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel are already gently elevating us to a higher plane of consciousness.
Paul Nolan, 26 Feb 2004
Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. A few tracks into Air’s stunning show at the Olympia and the redoubtable Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel are already gently elevating us to a higher plane of consciousness. The sublime, piano-driven, celestial grooves of ‘Venus’ float out into the thronged venue with exquisite elegance, putting the enraptured listener in mind of the beautiful moments: the lazy, hazy, sun-kissed summer evening; the first flowering of teenage love; an epiphanic glimpse of a particularly gorgeous member of the opposite sex.
If other practitioners of downtempo music – like, say, Mogwai – favour foreboding soundscapes akin to the holding music the government will play after The Bomb has dropped, then Air are the genre’s supremely languid, devil-may-care flipside. You couldn’t really imagine them soundtracking the sinister dystopian visions of Bladerunner or A Clockwork Orange. Rather, their most natural celluloid home would have been as house-band aboard one of the spaceships in 2001 – the perfect aural accompaniment to a future that’s shiny and sleek and full of possibilities.
Certainly, the entrancing mid-show suite of ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’, ‘Surfing On A Rocket’ and ‘Wonder Milky Bitch’ is an awesomely-realised odyssey into dreamy, blissed-out sonic terrain: all hypnotically funky rhythms, ambient effects and ethereal, tranquillised vocals. They even interpolate a magnificent funk workout into the intro of the elegiac ‘Playground Love’, before concluding the main part of the set with an irresistibly danceable rendition of ‘Kelly Watch The Stars’.
For the encore, they treat us to blinding takes ‘Sexy Boy’ and ‘La Femme D’argent’ (which gradually metamorphoses into a staggering funk jam), before – in that uniquely Air-ish mix of flamboyance and polite reserve – departing with a humble bow and a few discreetly blown kisses to the enchanted crowd. Truly, as Abba put it in their bittersweet lament to Fernando, there was something in the Air that night.