It took a while but I can finally say that I saw Dead Can Dance live!
They’ve been around since 1981 and this tour was a bit of a second chance in many ways seeing as they broke up in 1998 and only reunited briefly in 2005 releasing limited-edition recordings of 21 shows from a European and North American tour.
After four free download EP releases, in late 2011, the band announced a reunion World Tour to be accompanied by the release of a new album, Anastasis, their first album in 16 years!
The tour began in August 2012 and will finish in February 2013. Tonight’s show in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (I think I will always refer to it using its former name, the Grand Canal Theatre!) was the last night of the European leg of the tour and the 41st since it began.
Dead Can Dance were formed by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry and seeing them live was as exciting as hearing them live. Gerrard who has composed many great movie soundtracks [list here] is a dramatic contralto, with a whopper of a voice!
I’ve heard her described as looking alien-like and/or angelic and it’s true that on stage, she looks ‘other worldly’. She says little, leaving Perry to thank the crowd and introduce or explain the next song. She’s stunning to look at, graceful and perfectly poised throughout.
The name of the band confuses many and a taxi to and from the concert certainly proved that while attempting to explain the band and their music to cab drivers! Gerrard/Perry looked at the process of creativity, of bringing things back to life and so arrived at the band’s name, Dead Can Dance. They literally breath life into old songs and instruments. When they’re not reviving 300 year old Arabic songs from Spain or forgotten tunes from Greece, many of their self-penned songs are sung by Gerrard employing a technique called glossolalia, much like Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. This further adds to Gerrard’s appeal and mystique.
If you’ve seen the movie Baraka (no plot, no storyline, no actors, no dialogue, no voice-over. Interested?), you’ll have heard Gerrard and Dead Can Dance. If you haven’t, you need to! Here’s one scene…
Tonight’s show was sold out but despite the numbers, you could have heard a pin drop during the quieter parts of the gig. Listening to Dead Can Dance live or on a recording, is like stepping back in time. They incorporate African rhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern mantras, and art-rock, the latter attracting lots of old 4ad loving Goths! There were young children in the audience too. I wish my parents had brought me to something as cool as this when I was growing up. A visit to the theatre at that age amounted to Christmas pantomimes!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing Dead Can Dance, A Passage in Time is a good place to start or feed your eyes as well as your ears and watch Baraka!