Sunday 25 February 2018

Review: Air, The Olympia, Dublin

Hamlet The Helix, Dublin John McKeown Air The Olympia, Dublin Ed Power

LOOKING as if they've just wafted out of a French 'Vogue' fashion spread, Parisian duo Air are the essence of Gallic sophistication.

Standing behind a stack of analogue synths, Jean-Benoit Dunckel is dashing in neckerchief and euro-trash stubble.

Strapping on a bass guitar, Nicolas Godin, meanwhile, projects a professorial inscrutability.

Naturally, both carry off the potentially disastrous pairing of white shirt and trousers with effortless panache.

Seldom has a group's sartorial sensibilities so accurately reflected their music.

Living up to every cliche in the book regarding louche French pop stars, the pair have devoted the past 12 years to turning chill-out into a respectable sub-genre.

On their latest LP, 'Love 2', for instance, they mingle Serge Gainsbourg sophista-pop with '90s French electronica.

The results are by turns beguiling and stiflingly mannered but always immaculately pieced together, so that, at times, the record resembles abstract art as much as a pop album.

By all accounts, they are something of an odd couple: Dunckel introverted and introspective; Godin more outgoing and comfortable in the world of Anglo-American music (back at home the pair are regarded as blasphemers on account of their insistence on singing in English).


At The Olympia, however, they present a united front, breathy vocals commingling to the point where it is impossible to tell where one begins and the other ends.

Great chunks of the evening drift past like perfectly sculpted ice floes. There's lots of earnest noodling from Godin, while Dunckel shows an unexpected playful side, tinkling vocoderised 'thank yous' on his keyboard.

Occasionally, they reach for one of their handful of hits, most drawn from their 1998 debut 'Moon Safari'.

Instantly iconic, the album has weathered the years well: the twinkling 'Kelly Watch The Stars' foreshadowed the currently electro-pop vogue; 'Remember' is Kraftwerk lounging by the riviera.

Smiling conspiratorially, they start the encore with their defining smash, the still tingle-inducing 'Sexy Boy', a song which manages to be both dreamily groovy and impossible to dance to, followed by an eight-minute refit of their classic lounge anthem, 'La Femme D'Argent'.

All in all, a good Air day.

Irish Independent

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