by kidda on 08/10/2004.

Last night we saw some rehearsals and great looking projections. The stage is a similar design to Aero with Jarre and Rimbert in the centre surrounded by their keyboard rig, with screens in front of them. Jarre also has a set of tubular bells for Aerology. Although it’s not as exciting without a full band on stage (drummer, bass guitarist etc) it’s partly made up for by the presence of 2 Chinese Orchestras, an opera singer on a crane, and the long awaited return of Patrick Rondat.

The stage location is also superb. It’s open-air with copious lights on all parts of the Meridian Gate including skytrackers. In terms of “surround” features, the lights go all around the courtyard and there are surround speakers facing inward (of course, not really 5.1, more like quadraphonic to be honest). To date, we’ve not heard the music at full volume as the front speakers haven’t been installed (so only from stage monitors at this point).

There are ten inflatable screens of different shapes, which include cones and spheres. The projections, you will be pleased to hear, are all-new and include 3D rotating fairground carousels and snow globes. The also include famous Parisian landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Grande Arche. We think these are the best projections seen yet (many fans were impressed). This is not like Athens or Aero with hand-drawn projections, these are high-definition, photographic quality, moving images.

Currently, in Beijing, the weather is extremely misty throughout the day and the night. In the early evening, this meant the lights at the concert were very intense particularly the new, lower angled laser harp. However, by 8pm, the mist had become so thick it was hard to see the wall of the Meridian Gate from even quite close to the stage.

The VIP seats are on the left and right side of the courtyard but the centre walkway is still unoccupied allowing visitors to the Forbidden City in and out.

We’ve not seen the second stage yet but are heading to Tian’anmen Square later today to have a look. The English language newspaper China Daily this morning has stated there will be a second stage will be on Tian’anmen Square for the last 20 minutes