Air, Roundhouse, London

A night of alchemy and nonchalance.

Rating: 8

These days you’d be hard pressed to find an ‘electronic’ band that doesn’t insist on sharing the stage with the infamous white Mac book. So thank god for AIR. A French duo consisting of Nicholas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel who for the past 15 years have created seductively synthesised sounds without ever compromising their creative integrity. They have won fans the world over and now even with the release of ‘Love 2’, their sixth studio album; the Gallic pair shows no sign of slowing down. Tonight London’s Roundhouse is to be the destination for the closing date of their two month European jaunt.

Proving to be veterans in their field, the night ends as it began; with two endearing Frenchmen performing so effortlessly that it is as though they are hardly trying at all. So coolly unconcerned with their surroundings, yet so engrossed in their combined creation, Air play as if to an empty room; so uninhibited. They are as calm and collected as the astral music that they create. Leaning heavily on vocoders the crowd is caressed by the sexy-as-hell, yet androgynous voice created by Nicolas Godin, further complimented by the celestial light show that visually punctuates the songs.

The show is heavily orchestrated around the Krautrock-ish pace of the self-produced ‘Love 2’, their most personal offering since debut ‘Moon Safari’. The ethereal ‘So Light Is Her Footfall’ is followed by the equally enchanting ‘Love’, ‘Tropical Disease’, ‘Be a Bee’ and ‘Heaven’s Light’. All the while the atmospheric sounds of ‘Moon Safari’ weave in between while languid melody ‘Remember’ helps begin the show followed by well-known ‘Kelly Watch the Stars’ and closer ‘Sexy Boy’; a song that most definitely leaves the audience reeling for more.

The quality of craftsmanship is apparent as the two focus on their respective instruments; Godin on the guitar and Dunckel on the keyboard, but it is the vocal harmonies that really prove how well they worked together. The gems of the night include 1999’s ‘J’ai Dormis Sous L’eau’ and 2001’s ‘Radian’; a live version which completely transforms a once adequate background song into a brilliant melody led by haunting harps and floating flutes. It is then up to the guitarist with the winning smile Nicolas Godin to dedicate favourite ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’ to ‘all the lovers of the world’. As the two sing together it is often difficult to distinguish Godin’s voice from Dunckel’s, and vice versa.

Air at the Roundhouse is an intoxicating affair in which blissed-out saccharine electronica reverberates down the ear canal and in less than two hours the spectacle is over. So charming are these Frenchmen that this substantial amount of time was stolen without ever having realised it. It’s a night of alchemy and nonchalance.