Edinburgh Corn Exchange
This could so easily have been a triumph of style over content. Even before these French exponents of 'lounge-core' come on stage it just looks right: the solitary techie behind the desks is a proper pencil necked geek with a pair of headphones on (i'm sure he calls them 'cans') earnestly talking into a microphone. The bulky roadies on stage are waring baggy cargo pants to a man and more than one has a cigarette fixed to his lips. There is a white keyboard on a guitar strap propped up next to a pile of synths, one of which (a moog?) has a 70's wood effect finish. Then the Air Boys take the stage in black shirts and ties, like Kraftwerk with the addition of both dynamism and hair. They take up their positions at their instruments and slip into the poses made famous by Mike Mills' artwork from the Moon Safari sleeve. As they admit to the audience, the only problem with the two supporting muscians is that "unfortunately they are not French."
It is with a track from Moon Safari that they start their set, I think it was Talisman but all I will say for certain was that it was an instrumental track, somehow knowing the names of the instrumental tracks but still being unable to identify them individually is part of Air for many people. It would also seem, unsurprisingly, that Moon Safari is still the major crowd pleaser with Sexy Boy (ending the first encore) being the crowd favourite, even if some were singing the wrong lyrics. (You know who you were...) For Kelly Watch the Stars the spots fittingly turned from their previous mellow collideascopic hues to radiating beams of white stars playing over the ceiling. I'm not sure if I was alone in seeing the two spots in the centre of the backdrop as the stars from the striking single cover.
It was also alarming obvious that tracks from "1000hz thingumy" left the crowd cold. Described as "bad Pink Floyd" by someone who is not a fan of The Floyd it was noticeable that the level of chatting and distraction went up significantly during these tracks and this provided a nice counterpoint to the rhythmic swaying and bobbing of the sea of heads that characterised the rest of the set. Without these breaks everyone would have drifted off into their own individual concert and the all too familiar social element of talking over an Air track would have been missing from the experience.
The, often overlooked, Virgin Suicides score made a appearance with a medley of songs culminating in the drummer providing the perfect wave for the instrumentalists to surf through Playground Love. The choice of a medley seems ideal for a film score album that is remarkable for its continuity and flow. Finishing with an upbeat rendition of the single is a such a classic that these Gallic groovers could not help but embrace it.
With Talkie Walkie being the current album, and the cover providing the art for the posters and flyers, it was not surprising to hear it well represented. Alpha Beta Gaga failed to really get the crowd interested as the start of the first encore but Cherry Blossom Girl was a delight with "the one who's hair looks like less of a mop" vocoding his vocals through the guitar-keyboard around his neck. "The song off the Orange advert" was then whistled live for us, with great gusto, by "the one who's hair looks like a bigger mop" whilst he simultaneously played the guitar. If these two ever decided to go their separate ways the world could potentially gain two equally stylish and musical one man bands. Alone in Kyoto (aka: The one from Lost in Translation) was not immediately recognised by the majority of the crowd but once their attention had been recalled by a fine rendition they found that they were back in the familiar position of being lost in the music once more.
Saving the best to last we were treated to two songs from Premiers Symptomes. The first, sneaked into the middle of the set from nowhere in particular was Le Solei est Pres de Moi. I seem to get lucky with my favourite bands playing my personal favourite tracks when I go to see them and this was no exception. Although the rest of the crowd did not seem to share my rapture with this song, my night was complete. After leaving the stage following a superb up-tempo rendition of Sexy Boy to end their first encore it came a surprise to many of us to seem them take the stage again for a second encore, after all they didn't really have anything left to play in a second encore; they had done the crowd pleasers and done them well. This could derail the whole night's Air experience. Casanova 70 was not an obvious choice but it slowly built into a hypnotic malestrom of melody, firmly but gently allowing no one to escape. By the time they left the stage no one was quite sure if it was all over.