Full Moody Theater. Photo by Vicki Segna.
- DCD Dragonfly. Photo by Stephanie Reid.
The Mysterious Lisa Gerrard. Photo by Vicki Segna.
Four Corners. Photo by Vicki Segna.
Jules Maxwell, Brendan Perry, & Lisa Gerrard. Photo by Vicki Segna.
- Golden Ray Epiphany. Photo by Vicki Segna.
Moody Theater, Austin, Texas, USA
8:00 PM – A strange metal device reminiscent of a U.F.O. is resting on a man’s lap. He plays it with his fingertips. It emanates an uncanny mixture of sounds. At times I hear a stringed instrument, at times percussion, but rich full tones are always resonating within it. The man’s hands appear to be very gently tapping this instrument, which lends to the potency of the powerful music. The mood transports me to the Arabic world.
The song ends and the artist introduces himself as David Kuckherman. He introduces his instrument the ‘Hang’, pronounced with a short ‘a’. Another name for it is ‘handpan’. It was invented only 12 years ago in Switzerland. Yes, it definitely sounds like space age music. The first generation handpans were tuned to Greek, Arabic, and East Asian scales.
To hear Kuckherman’s new solo CD, Path of the Metal Turtle, visit:
He takes a break from the handpan to play a Turkish frame drum, or tambourine, with various names such as def and riq. His fingers move so quickly and with such control, it’s amazing that the cymbals only make sound when he warrants it.
His next percussive performance on the Hang is inspired by a Thai island spirit. Although, it does not sound like Thai music, it has the airiness of being on a relaxing exotic beach. He concludes his set with a rockin’ Arabesque piece.
9:00 PM – The net behind the stage begins to twinkle upon a glowing blue scrim. Members of the band emerge, saving the star, Lisa Gerrard, for last. She graces the stage in a black velvet gown with long gold brocade scarf draped around her neck and flowing down her back. The band opens up with the first track off of their new album, Anastasis, which was released last month. “Children of the Sun”, the intro song, is sung by Brendan Perry, the performer in the group who adds concrete to the ethereal sculptures spun by the glossolalia goddess, Gerrard. He shares philosophical poetry with his lyrics and delivers them with sincerity. As the concert unfolds, I realize that although his voice sounds the same as it always has in concert, in his maturity, he exudes more confidence.
Several other recent songs are woven into the soundscape of the evening. The earliest work threaded in was from their 1988 release, The Serpent’s Egg. Another first track, “The Host of Seraphim”, is a cinematic revelation into the sorrow of the innocent. It has been repopularized by it’s inclusion into the soundtrack of the film, Baraka, directed by Ron Fricke, the cinematographer of Koyaanisqatsi. As a side note, Baraka is showing on screen at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on September 10th and 12th. The next Fricke tour de force, Samsara, opens in Austin on September 14th. Again, music by Lisa Gerrard will be included in the film.
The tendency for Dead Can Dance albums is to have an underlying ethnographic foundation to each. There have been LPs with medieval European, African, and Caribbean influence. Anastasis, meaning‘resurrection’ in Greek, has a decidedly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean backbone. The title is perhaps a reference to the group’s return to music making together. It has been 16 years since they recorded new music. Perry presents a Greek song, about Greece, explaining that its lyrics roughly translate to, “The beautiful lady lost her leg in a dice game”. He strums a stringed instrument that looks to be a bouzouki and croons in the tongue of the original.
As the show winds down, Perry gives a solo performance of “Song to the Siren”, lending a sailor’s voice to a composition inspired by mythology.
Gerrard, backlit by beams of golden light, appears to have descended from Olympus and continues to awe listeners with otherworldly opera. Three encores later, the sun begins to fade. She leaves us as elegantly as she entered, with a voice gliding on a wave, “Austin, you are fantastic.”
Dead Can Dance * World Tour Dates, Music, and More: http://www.deadcandance.com/main/