- 16 Aug 16
With an arsenal of gazillion-selling hits and everyone from Damon Albarn and Peaches to Jeff Mills and Edward Snowden on speed-dial, Jean Michel Jarre is electronica royalty personified. His star-studded new record, decadent NYC nights out, the French terror attacks and his upcoming Dublin show are all discussed as he exchanges bon mots with Stuart Clark
It's coming up to midnight in Nîmes at the end of a Bastille Day that's been robustly celebrated by the 146,000 inhabitants of the southern French city. Following the morning's formal commemoration of the 1789 revolution, the old town switched into St. Patrick's Day-style party mode with the myth that it's only the English and Irish who fall down drunk in the street well and truly shattered.
Come 9pm, 5,000 of the Bastille Day celebrants had packed in to Arènes De Nîmes, a Roman amphitheatre-turned-bullring, for a headlining show by Jean Michel Jarre who demonstrated why he's a veritable synth pop God round these parts. The show, which we'll come back to later, is an absolute cracker with the disgustingly well-preserved 67-year-old - seriously, he makes Springsteen look like Iggy Pop in comparison - mixing such classics as 'Oxygene 4', 'Equinoxe 5' and 'Rendezvous 4', with bangers from the brand new Electronica 2, which includes The Pet Shop Boys, Julia Holter, Peaches, Hans Zimmer, Gary Numan, Jeff Mills, Sebastien Teller, Primal Scream and Edward Snowden among its guest turns.
The mood coming out of the gig is celebratory until mobile phones start ringing. A few seconds after answering hers, a teenage girl screams and collapses onto the pavement, crying. It sets off a chain reaction around the Place des Arènes, the likes of which I've never encountered before and certainly hope I never encounter again. I know something awful has happened, but only find out what when I get back to my hotel where staff and guests are staring ashen-faced at a TV live broadcasting the shocking events in Nice.