Dead Can Dance Live @ Chicago Pritzker Pavilion
It’s hard not to feel something historic went down this past Tuesday when Dead Can Dance played a live set at Chicago’s Pritzker Pavilion. Picture it: Lisa Gerrard & Brendan Perry, as they once were, plugged into Chicago’s most luxurious outdoor sound system, under a dusky summer skyline with the DCD sound gently ricocheting off the buildings. In Gerrard you have one of this last century’s most immensely gifted vocal artists. Some of the most moving contributions to the soundtrack of Ron Fricke’s powerful Baraka were provided by DCD, but setting aside for moment her best known creative outlet, she has worked on several other “once-in-lifetime” projects which deserve mention. Lisa Gerrard received a Golden Globe for her work on the soundtrack to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. She also scored Whalerider and worked with Ennio Morricone on Fateless. Gerrard and Klaus Schulze (of early Tangerine Dream) freestyled it over two afternoons in Hambühren in 2008 for their Farscape collaboration, which was a series of 14-30 minute tracks called Liquid Coincidence spread across 2 CDs.
Aesthetically speaking, the music of Dead Can Dance has always been (and likely always will be) residing near the center of the modern Goth Ethos. Their music has become an essential part of the Gothic musical canon, as much as Bela Lugosi’s Dead. They have an interesting fusion of tribal and world instrumentation going on. By 1984, Dead Can Dance signed to 4AD for which they would record at least 8 albums. This was during a time when ‘alternative music’ meant names such as The Cure, Siouxie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Diamanda Galas or the Sisters of Mercy. Other bands, Bauhaus and Joy Division cast a fuzzy pall over a landscape of post-punk noise and new wave. Acts like The Pixies and Nine Inch Nails didn’t exist. In the early 80s another band was also making waves, The Cocteau Twins, who emerged almost concurrently with Dead Can Dance on the same label. Both bands featured waif-like female leads whose singing mostly consisted of a sort of marvelously musical glossolalia which, when heavily layered with obscure instrumentation and wistful melodies, resulted in a richly hypnotic and fascinating sound. Perfect for non-conformists wallowing in black leather! Members from both Dead Can Dance and Cocteau Twins collaborated tenuously for 4AD’s ‘supergroup’ release from This Mortal Coil. In any case, hit the links to watch some video, look at some pictures, and read some facts… and do catch Dead Can Dance live near your town while you still can! High points from this show: The Host of Seraphim, Rakim, and Brendan Perry’s encore performance of Song to the Siren.