Last night New York City was treated to a special performance from the legendary Air. It has been nearly three years since the French duo have come to play American shores, and they were performing in support of their newest effort, Pocket Symphony. I had never had the chance to see the group live before, and I had my ideas on how they would be in person. That's to say, I loved a lot of their music and thought it to be loud, bright and sexy. What more would you expect from a band whose name is actually an acronym for "Amour, Imagination, Reve" (translated to Love, Imagination, Dream for you non-Francophones.)
We arrived to the Theater at MSG just in the nick of time to catch the last two acoustic songs from TV On The Radio. As the houselights came on after TVOTR's set I was a little confused from the crowd. There were those typical people you would expect to see at an Air show, French-type models decked to the nines, but then there were the people sitting behind me: British, bald and obviously a Manchester United or Arsenal fan. OK, so I am probably committing a fauxpax by not knowing which one, but whatever. This guy was someone I expected to see at an Oasis concert, not Air. Remember this guy; he'll come back later on.
Air took the stage a little after 9:30pm to a slightly less-than-sold-out crowd. Why were there not more people there to welcome them remains a mystery. Regardless, I remained excited to see them. They played for about an hour, fulfilling the required tracks from their repertoire. One thing is for sure, after seeing several shows at the Theater at MSG, it's safe to say that the sound in there is the best in the city. Sure, Air most likely has their own sound tech, but every last bristle on the drums or breath drawn was audible, and it was gorgeous.
While it was nice to hear new tracks like "Photograph," "Napalm Love," "Once Upon A Time" and "Mer du Japon," I sometimes found myself zoning out watching the lights onstage and the fog machine because the most action that the stage saw was from the lights. That's not to say that Air was bad; the guys were tight and nothing short of professional. As a matter of fact they performed as a five-piece with guitar, bass, synth, keys and drums. Occasionally we were awakened back into reality from our aforementioned British dude. He, as most people there, were ready to hear the jams. During the set he would yell out such awesomeness as "C'mon ya French cunts!," "Fucking French cunts!," and "C'mon my son, lets hear it!" I think at one point he even made the mistake of calling them German, but that's another story.
After playing for almost a full hour, Air finished their set with "Kelly Watch The Stars" off 1998's Moon Safari, left the stage and came back for three more songs. Surprisingly the encore was the most energetic part of the evening, especially when they played a more rocked out version of "Sexy Boy" and a fuck-your-shit-up-mind-blowing version of "Le Femme d'Argent." Oh, and to the people sitting next to me that left early, you missed out! It was hard to not leave with a smile on my face after seeing that. Granted, maybe it would have been more fitting to see Air with a bigger light show in a different venue. Perhaps an outdoors amphitheater where concertgoers could gaze at the stars like a real-life planetarium. Now that would be cool.
"Once Upon A Time"
"Cherry Blossom Girl"
"People In The City"
"Mer du Japon"
"Don't Be Light"
"Kelly Watch The Stars"
"Alone In Kyoto"
"La Femme d'Argent"
Photos by Whistling In The Dark