Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dead Can Dance, Beacon Theatre 08/30/12

I am a child of darkness. I try to pretend I am upbeat and optimistic, and I am... usually. I also like the things that go bump in the night, the ghouls, the witches, and indeed, I like DEAD CAN DANCE. I've been listening to them since before I bought my first stick of black lipstick from Utopia (aw, a LONG ISLAND reference!). They aren't necessarily "GOTH" to me though... I always perceived them as more sophisticated than that.

They are world travelers who glory in the sounds and aural textures of Middle Eastern, Gypsy, Celtic, Indian, and Arabic music (and many more cultures no doubt). They blend old world instrumentation and modern day synthesizers to create a truly unique and modern yet historically rich sound. You can't NOT undulate to the beats of Dead Can Dance, you can't NOT fall under a hypnotic rhythmic spell when you listen to them. Not only are the instrumentations generated enthralling but the sounds produced by female lead singer Lisa Gerrard are so enchanting they make me think she is Titania reborn! As if her honeyed vocals weren't intriguing enough- I only just recently realized she isn't speaking any "true" words at all- she is in fact singing in her own language or "idioglossia" as I have come to learn!

The crowds were swathed in all black and black fishnet, the scent of Djarum Clove cigarettes was heavy in the air. I saw more nests of unruly black hair then I've seen in a long time, old weathered gothic patrons up to the hot-topic generations were all in attendance. What really did my heart good were the older more subdued Gothparents bringing their spawn to listen to Dead Can Dance. I pictured them as babies in black & grey striped swaddling rags being rocked to sleep in an Addam's Family-esque bassinet while "The Spider's Stratagem" played softly in the back ground. Now, here they are, maybe no more than 10 years old, decked out in a skull tshirt and black denim pants holding on to their refined subtly goth mom's hand as the descend to their seats. It was touching, really.

Sitting in Beacon Theater and listening to Dead Can Dance was a pleasure, but I have to admit it was hard not to get up and dance. To be honest, I am shocked that no one actually got off of their velvet seats to vamp out. The sounds were delicious though, maybe we were choosing to feast and enjoy rather than become enraptured in dance? I am not sure. They were very on-key and played well, the percussion section did a particularly marvelous job, and Lisa Gerrard had us all in awe. Her voice, her voice carried into the rafters, her voice hypnotized and seduced us into a captivated silence. We only "huzzahed" when a song was at its close. I liken listening to Dead Can Dance to being under the influence of a sorceresses incantations. I am still unsure of how I left the theater, got on a train, and made it home- and no- I was NOT drunk. I just couldn't stop hearing their music in my head!

Set List:
Children of the Sun
Lamma Bada
The Host of Seraphim
Ime Prezakias
Now We Are Free
All in Good Time

The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove
Dreams Made Flesh

Encore 2:
Song to the Siren (Tim Buckley cover)
Return of the She-King

Encore 3:
Rising of the Moon

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beirut at Rumsey Playfield

This was a strange concert event for me. I hadn't gotten tickets to see Beirut, although, I admit I have a certain fondness for their eclectic "indy" sound. My friend at the last minute asked me to go, gratis- as he had purchased two tickets and couldn't find anyone who could attend! I am as surprised as you are at this premise but I took the ticket! The show was fun, albeit it filled with semi-enthused hipsters only pretending to enjoy themselves while waiting on lines for the ATM machines. Every now and then I would notice a genuinely excited Beirut fan in the thralls, but they quickly extinguished their enthusiasm when they began to get stares and blatant eye rolling. I do not like this whole "dead inside at concerts" phenomenon. We are all here to be HERE in THIS MOMENT. We paid money to hear and see this group of musicians performing songs that we LIKE... so can we please act like it?  

Scenic World
Elephant Gun
East Harlem
Postcards From Italy
Santa Fe
The Shrew
Port of Call 
A Sunday Smile 
Serbian Cocek 
The Rip Tide The Akara 
My Night with the Prostitute from Marseille
The Penalty
After The Curtain 
The Gulag Orkestra

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Brightest Diamond MoMA

The first song I ever heard by My Brightest Diamond was "The Robin's Jar" on Pandora, suddenly, without any warning, Pandora radio brought forth the robust yet delicate voice of Shara Worden. From that one melancholic song, a deep love began to blossom and flourish. My Brightest Diamond is one of those groups that has crept sneakily up the ladder that leads to my heart and mind, gently nudging at my psyche and asking me politely to listen and absorb the lyrics, the chords, the melodies, until, unexpectedly, they've become one of my favorite bands. 

When I heard that Shara Worden was to be performing a one-woman My Brightest Diamond show in the Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art, I dropped everything to attend. Clutching my museum admission ticket, I ran to the garden where I was met with throngs of curious on-lookers. All were holding little leaflets with performance details and a short My Brightest Diamond biography. As I looked at all the occupied seats, people sitting scattered all about the garden, some even perched on the stairs, I wondered how many there even knew her music. I was relieved to see that there was a roped off area designated for the concert, a small collection of less than 50 black wired metal chairs. I crossed a white marble bridge, and quite stealthily approached the less occupied roped off area on the far left side and plotted a seat as close to the front as possible. When the bit of wire cable keeping us eager vultures at bay was finally lifted I bolted towards the front row. Where I ended up was even better than I imagined— front row center! I settled in with a glass of chardonnay, enjoying the summer breeze and eagerly awaiting the start of the show.

Without her backing band and without Ymusic, Shara Worden's My Brightest Diamond had a stripped down style that despite its less complicated compositions still managed to be incredibly moving and effective. I think it has something to do with her voice being the most powerful instrument- it rang off the stone walls of the open garden and could most likely be heard on the streets surrounding the museum despite the thumping crashes of garbage trucks and the screeching tires of passing cars. Hopping from song to song and instrument to instrument with the nimble dexterity of a spritely little pixie Shara took us on a pleasant albeit brief journey through the My Brightest Diamond catalog- playing a blend of the newer songs and the classics. On top of the already playful theatrics of Shara's voice, her story tellings, her wild impromptu interpretive dances, and musical prowess, she also added into this one woman show was a rather impressive range of costume changes! I haven't smiled, been moved to tears, and clapped along joyfully at a concert like this in quite some time!

I am unsure how many people there were fans of her music before the show began, but by the end everyone was smiling and clapping wildly! For every cheer and clap- no one did so louder than me in the front, wiggling in my seat trying NOT to jump out and dance.

The best part about these little intimate gigs though, are the opportunities that arise for the fans to interact with the performers. Why, not 10 minutes after the show had ended and I purchased the 7" single for "I have never loved someone" Shara herself was standing in the middle of the MoMA sculpture garden glowing in the fading light of dusk, smiling and speaking with whomever wished to stop and chat! She was very gracious and incredibly sweet as we spoke. I got a little insight into her process for performing her music live. She attempts to convey the mood of each song regardless of the "limitations" of a venue. You will all also be happy to know that I asked her if she would be returning to NY anytime soon to perform again with Ymusic, to which she responded "We should put on another show, shouldn't we?". Yes, dear Shara, you should. I promised her a small army of people would no doubt be joining me if she did.

You should also know that Shara looks so deeply into your eyes that its disarming…and that hugging her is awesome.

1. We Added Up
2. Golden Star
3. Escape Routes
4. Be Brave
5. Walt Whitman Poem (Put to Music)
6. From the Top of the World (with a very animated tale about little boy diamond & the north wind)
7. High Low Middle
8. Apples
9. Inside a Boy