The last time I saw Dead Can Dance live was at the Congress Theater in Chicago in 2005. To this day, I can honestly say that it was one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Dead Can Dance doesn’t just put on a show, they infiltrate the very fiber of your being. Although my husband and I were seated in front of an inebriated couple who apparently thought they were at a Kiss concert with their loud carrying on, Dead Can Dance is capable of quieting even the most distracted mind.
Their performance at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Chicago on August 21st was even better. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect day and venue. With an impressive stage designed by world-renowned architect Frank Ghery and lawn tickets sold for an evening outdoor picnic while hearing the lush vocals and melancholic sound scapes of Dead Can Dance, precious memories were made for me and my 9 year old daughter.
I had picked my daughter up from her first day back to school and hurriedly headed to Chicago for the event. This, being her first actual concert, her excitement was infectious even though we had a rough go of getting there.
Stressed and annoyed with the 90 minute trip and labyrinthine parking garage, we unpacked our gear and headed for the park. No one was really even there yet. PERFECT!
We found a great spot on the lawn and settled in for the picnic.
There was a man that came by to ask us if we wanted to move off the lawn and into the Pavilion, but we were happy where we were and what kid doesn’t love a picnic? Now, if only I could have brought my acoustic guitar, then we really could have had a proper world music, hippie sit in.
When dusk descends on the park, the architecture, lighting and mood take on a whole new meaning. I don’t think Dead Can Dance could have chosen any better venue in Chicago for their return after seven years. Dead Can Dance isn’t a band that tours often, so when they do, go see them. Even if you’re not familiar with their music, it’s about much more than that. Music for music lovers. Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry compliment each other vocally like butter and a hot knife. With Lisa’s trailing, proprietary middle eastern vocal style and Brendan’s soulful crooning, it was effortless to slip into a dream world and shrug off all fears and frustrations.
As their first track of the evening, Children of the Sun permeated our senses, my daughter became enraptured. As the song faded, Lisa Gerrard took stage and the audience revered her like a Queen with her noble stage gown and regal posturing at the mic. My daughter suddenly became aware of her surroundings when her favorite track Anabasis from their latest album Anastasis came on. Mesmerized by Gerrard’s haunting vocals and ancient beats from her hammered dulcimer, a true fan was born. The rest of the concert consisted of perfectly executed fan favorites with a healthy and seamless dose of their new material. Encores abound, the last song I caught was one of my personal favorties, The Ubuquitous Mr. Lovegrove sung entirely by Brendan Perry. It still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, so I’d have to say Mr. Perry’s Mr. Lovegrove stands the test of time. Based on the audience applause, I believe the City of Chicago concurs.
When I do a review of a band, I like to listen to their music as I write as I am doing at this very moment. Anabasis comes on and my daughter can hear it while she curses at her Xbox. She pauses the game, comes over and asked me if I played the song for her. Even when glued to killing zombies, the music of Dead Can Dance can stop a 9 year old in her tracks to command attention. That is powerful and for me, would be the best word to describe the band. POWERFUL.
If you haven’t heard of them, educate yourself. If you have the chance to see them on their current tour, do it. You can never tell when they’ll come around again and Dead Can Dance is an auditory experience not to be missed in your lifetime.
by Alex Savage
August 30th, 2012