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AIR:

From the Concert Hall to the Boiler Room

We dissected three of AIR's biggest songs from their Boiler Room session at Vivid LIVE

Josh Milch & Patrick McCarthy
Sydney Opera House

Sometimes an artist’s influence on music becomes most clear live on stage. When witnessing AIR in the Concert Hall, it’s easy to find oneself drawing a connection to Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, who says they made him realise his music "[didn’t] have to sound like a band, it can sound like something totally different.”

Nicolas Godin, one half of the French electronica duo has said it took time for them to be even be recognised as a “band” in their own country. But that never stopped them. He told The Guardian “rock music is not really in our culture. But electronic music is different. When we discovered it, suddenly we had an outlet.”

In being a testament to the sheer range of what constitutes “electronica”, AIR have developed their reputation as being uncompromising about their art. Dividing their time honing a refined sound in the studio and engaging in select projects such as the rescoring of Méliès’ groundbreaking 1902 silent film A Voyage to the Moon. A favourite of Sofia Coppla’s, their musical palette has appeared in The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, films whose soundtracks have developed currencies of their own.

With reference to his muse Glenn Gould, Godin tells Amoeba Records. "I always try to make something new from old stuff”. It follows that 'Mike Mills' from Talkie Walkie opens with a melody that resembles a Bach fugue — and that the duo have reserved Australian appearances for the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House.

"I always try to make something new from old stuff."

'Sexy Boy'

The formation of AIR's sound is a story best told by ‘Sexy Boy’ — the hit single from Moon Safari that placed them on the map in the US and UK. Reportedly emerging from Godin’s experimentation with the same model of bass guitar once used by Paul McCartney, the track’s processed vocals are ambiguous about gender, delving into the pair’s own youthful insecurities: “un jour / Je serai beau comme un Dieu (One day / I will be as beautiful as a god). "

When he plugged the bass into a guitar amp and played the filtered riff for the first time, Godin knew he had a made something of huge potential. By finding the junction of 60s garage rock with a 70s piano groove, the single finds itself simultaneously at home on the dancefloor and in a venue like the Concert Hall. Some audience members danced in the aisles while others were content reclining while the melodies washed over them.

'La Femme D'Argent'

You might get the wrong impression of AIR if you're only listening to 'Sexy Boy'. It might be their most commercially successful song, but listen to Moon Safari from start to finish and you'll discover an impressive stylistic range in extended songs like 'La Femme D'Argent'.

It's a perfect showcase of what John Mulvey writing for NME described as a "sensitive but tenacious grasp of melody, a laid-back disposition." Concert Hall crowds were treated with an extended version as their closing song to Vivid LIVE.

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'Kelly Watch The Stars'

Kelly Watch the Stars is the kind of hit that became irreversibly tied to the accompanying music video in the minds of audiences worldwide.  In the video a girl named Kelly is knocked unconscious while playing ping-pong and floats through the stars before returning to her body to claim victory.

You can feel that moment of collective recognition in the Concert Hall when the unmistakeable synthesised melody kicks in and is greeted by a cheer.

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