Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dead Can Dance at the Royal Albert Hall

I got to London about 2 hours before the concert was due to start, which unfortunately left me little time for sightseeing or shopping. I had really wanted to go to Rough Trade at Dray Walk, but that will have to wait for another day.

 I didn't realise 'til I entered the venue, that I was going to be sat in the Circle. This was not good for me as I have a real fear of heights. As I took my seat, I felt an compelling urge to jump from the balcony! This soon passed as the lights went down, thankfully.

The 'support act' came from David Kuckhermann, percussionist extraordinaire, and master of the PanArt Hang. This is a tuned steel drum which resembles (according to David) a flying saucer. He also performed a piece on a tambourine, which was amazing! The amount of different sounds he managed to beat and shake from that most basic of instruments was incredible. I shall be seeking out some of Mr Kuckhemann's music on iTunes quite soon.

At 8:45 then, Dead Can Dance finally took to the stage. I have seen them live previously, (strangely enough, at a different Albert Hall - Nottingham!), missed them once (after travelling down to London only to find the gig cancelled!), and seen Brendan and Lisa seperately a couple of times, but they were all such a long time ago, so I felt a real thrill as they walked onto the stage.

The first time... £6.00!
22 years later... still a bargain!
The first thing I noticed, was the lack of acoustic instruments on the stage. Sure, there was plenty of percussion: frame drums, goblet drums and Lisa's trusty yan ch'in, yet there was no whistles or flutes, no acoustic bass, no timpani or gongs and a real lack of guitars. The stage was actually dominated by three separate keyboard stations, and a 'proper' rock drum kit! Now for someone who has watched Towards the Within more times than I can remember, i must admit to feeling a bit disappointed with this.

However, I had not taken a day off work and driven 4 hours down the motorway to be negative, so I settled into my uncomfortable theatre seat and decided to enjoy.

The first two songs were from the new album: Children of the Sun and Anabasis. Now I must admit to having only listened to the new album a couple of times before this, and one of those was in the car on the way down, and I wasn't really taken with it. To me it sounded a little too much like Brendan's last solo album which was a huge disappointment to me. Not because it was bad, but because it had taken so long to record (11 years between Eye of the Hunter and Ark), I was expecting something really special. In this live setting however, the songs really came to life, and Anabasis particularly is now to my ears "classic" DCD.

Next came the live favourite, Rakim, to which the whole theatre recognised from the first"ping" of the finger cymbal. I noticed here that David Kuckhermann, was also a member of the live DCD band, and his lightening fast goblet drum playing fitted in perfectly.

Lisa and Brendan performing Dreams Made Flesh (courtesy of DCD's Facebook page)

The concert went on to include the whole of the new album Anastasis, as well as a couple of new songs (to me at least) Lamma Bada: a 300 year old arabic lament, Ime Prezakias: a 1930's song from Greece, and Rising of the Moon: the last song, a solo piece from Lisa.

The biggest cheers of the evening went to The Host of Seraphim, and one of the songs that Lisa recorded for the first This Mortal Coil album, Dreams Made flesh, which was simply Brendan on Dulcimer, and Lisa's voice. 

My high points were Lisa's Sanvean, which had me blubbing throughout, Brendan's Song to the Siren (yes I know it's not really Brendans!), and from the new album, Amnesia. I thought Now We Are Free from Gladiator should maybe have been left out as it didn't fit in with the rest of the set. I would like to have heard Cantara, The Carnival is Over, American Dreaming, The Song of the Sibyl.... the list could go on!

All in all it was a very special evening, I only wish it didn't take me until 4am to get home!

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