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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Music: Dead Can Dance 
28th-Aug-2012 11:03 am
Summer
Last night, I saw Dead Can Dance with Scherzoid. (His post is here) I thought that the singing was good, the musicality was fantastic, and the light show was alternatively really interesting and physically painful. Not kidding. I still hurt today. Some idiot design artist thought it would be cute to repeatedly light up the audience with the spotlights. I drove home with a drilling pain in my left temple, and it hasn't gone away yet. It's going to be another Vicodin night tonight, I can tell already.

Throbbing headache aside, it was a great concert. It's pretty hard to get two bel canto type (female) voices to blend, and they were magnificent when they did that. The main female vocalist did have virbrato when singing alone, though. The gent was a strong, deep-voiced guy who did nicely in playing as well as singing.

I'd love to tell you who I saw on stage, but the Wolf Trap program is sadly lacking in useful information. The program says "folk duo" and lists Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerard. But, I swear that I saw seven people on stage. Percussion, keyboards, strumming... At least three people were singing; two of them were women. Ah! Their web site has a better listing: http://issuu.com/dcdofficial/docs/digitaltourprogram. Astrid Williamson is the other female vocalist. David Kuckhermann was the amazing percussionist.

The group's stage presence was... poor. They were facing front, but that's about it. They did not explain their songs - except for one about Greece - and did not appear to know how to react to the hooting fans. At one point, Perry called the orchestra seats the "cheap seats" which really shows some ignorance. I was sorry to see their lack of connection, because they could have really built on their following with just a little relation to the audience.

This group has obviously been around for a while. The audience was quite a mix, from generics like me to older hippie types. Additionally, we had a large minority of female valley-goth, both male and female elder goth, and guy-dork. (The gent sitting next to me was wearing Playa-plaid pants.) I recognized people in the milling-about before the show from all aspects of my life, from social to professional. And I'm not surprised. Beyond the trance rhythms, this was some sophisticated music being presented, and I'm sure some of the fans were classical studies or folk studies people, and there were definitely some fellow musicians in the audience.

The music was presented in a half a dozen languages. I recognized or they introduced: Arabic, Greek, French, and English. I really wished that Michael Mandel could have been there to tell me about the songs and the singing. The rhythms were hypnotic to the point that when I closed my eyes against the spotlight, I actually got dizzy once or twice. I just wanted to get lost in the tones and the spiraling harmonies...

There were great instruments, too, including hammer dulcimer, electric mandolin, and a "hang." Yeah, I had to look that one up. A hang is a UFO crossed with a steel drum played like a talking drum. It's beautiful and haunting and if Achaosofkittens decides to buy me another random musical instrument, that is the one that I want next. David soloed with it twice during the opening of the show. Wow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_VuqwK92VM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

If you want a sample of Dead Can Dance, here's a live version of their contribution to the Gladiator soundrack, "Now We Are Free."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1JKrHNCi-k&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Comments 
28th-Aug-2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
The actual Dead Can Dance duo are Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. The touring band included Astrid Williamson (keyboards/vocals) and David Kuckhermann (percussion/Hang). Not sure offhand who the other members of the band were, but there's a downloadable tour program with bios at deadcandance.com.
28th-Aug-2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I edited the post with more information about the people, especially David. Wow, what a percussionist! I've never seen a solo on a tambourine that was actually musical as well as rhythmic before.
28th-Aug-2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
There are also, IIRC, five free downloadable live EPs, and "Amnesia," the first single from the new album, if you sign up for their mailing list.
28th-Aug-2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
It's funny you say they lacked stage presence. It seems everyone I know was at the concert last night (I was sorely sad to have missed it!) and one of the first things Flissy mentioned at practice today was how awesome the stage presence was.
28th-Aug-2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
Maybe it was my perspective from where I was sitting up in the box seats? I couldn't see them interacting with the audience from where I sat, and they never said anything except for the one song introduction and Gerrard's "You're marvelous" comment to the audience after the third encore.
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