Air, Brighton Dome
Reluctant duo leave unexpected frost in the air
Tuesday 10 February 2004
If, according to time-honoured cliché, the English are emotionally repressed and the French uninhibited, expressive beings then Air's Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel were born on the wrong side of the Channel. In the privacy of their studios, these boys from leafy Versailles are capable of making beautiful records overflowing with tenderness, melancholy and warmth. Ask them to play it live, however, and an unexpected frost descends.
The set draws heavily on Talkie Walkie, a new album which sees them returning to the wafty melodies and diaphanous textures of their unfeasibly successful debut Moon Safari. So different is the sound they make now that, for a few minutes, I wondered it I'd turned up to the wrong gig.
"Run", a sweet, plinky-plonky number on record, begins in the Hammer house of horror and ends in a real-life prog nightmare. The roaring bass is physically impressive but soon descends into a monotonous dirge. Meanwhile "Venus" seems so unfamiliar that it sounds as if Godin is playing in the wrong key.
It's clear that Godin and Dunckel are reluctant performers on stage. They say almost nothing, ending every song with a clipped "Thank you" while Godin thinks nothing of playing guitar with his back to the audience.
Occasionally, a moment of clarity breaks through the muddy surface. "Alpha Beta Gaga", with its cheerfully whistled chorus, is terrific, as are the tender flute-laden "Cherry Blossom Girl" and "Biological". But, alas, these are rare pleasures.
"La Femme D'Argent" comes with an intrusive bass beat while "Sexy Boy", performed during the encore, is played so fast you wonder if Godin and Dunckel have somewhere else to be. If that's the case then they're not the only ones, as I can't get out quick enough.
TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies
Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autism 'caused by genetics', study suggests
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
- 4 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Fifty Shades of Grey banned by Indian censors despite sex scenes being edited out
The 9 rules every Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoon had to follow are wonderfully pedantic
India's Daughter: BBC Four documentary provokes outrage on Twitter
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
The world's most beautiful libraries: Introducing Franck Bohbot's House of Books project
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'