Dead Can Dance have been 'dancing' on and off now for over thirty years and over the past twelve months have played to more people (400,000) in more places (85 shows across 4 continents) than ever before. Their distinctive soundscapes and brooding solemnity have stood the test of time remarkably well. After the founding members initial move away from Australia to settle in London it was inevitable that they would sign for 4AD. There they found kindred spirits and a platform on which to build, playing their part in the shaping the seminal work of This Mortal Coil. The gothic menace, percussive signature and individuality of the band have not diminished with time.
This 'In Concert' release is in the most part a live performance of their seventh, and last, studio album together 'Anastasis'. Brendan Parry and Lisa Gerrard have re-produced the album throughout their current World tour and have captured the highlights here.
'Children Of The Sun', the album's opener, is typical Dead Can Dance fare complete with celestial dawns, a sumptuous string arrangement, some infrequent but piquant horns and a rolling drum beat. Brendan's vocal has no less presence or intensity than in 1983 as the epic track unfolds its waves of undulating sound. 'Anabasis' follows on here, just as on the studio version. The cinematic and atmospheric track has Lisa crooning in a med evil almost Middle Eastern cantation. 'Rakim', one of the non-Anastasis tracks, employs further fabulous use of the band's favoured stringed instrument, the wonderfully toned Yanqin, as the bongos beat relentlessly as accompaniment.
Lisa Gerrard takes back vocal duty, with a powerful and hypnotic performance on the sultry sounding 'Kiko' before the traditional Arabian song Lamma Bada. The band's follow up is a track included on Lisa's solo album 'The Mirror Pool'. 'Sanvean' (I am Your Shadow) is a slower, less percussive song full of beautiful sweeping movements with an emotive vocal that is approaching that of an operatic aria. It's so evocative of the Mortal Coil work on Song To The Siren (A song sung later on the album, but not done justice, by Brendan. Once you've heard Liz Fraser's version nothing ever comes close) and Kangaroo and stands out here as a sublime piece of music.
Brendan and Lisa share the vocals on the 'Spiritchaser' album track 'Nierika', a track not dissimilar to the work of Rokia Traore, with its tribal rhythms before an 'Ocean Rain' of Bunnymen-esque pomp takes over on the stripped back and moody 'All In Good Time'. Brendan's alter ego takes over for snake charming whir of Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove: "You build me up then you knock me down, You play the fool while I play the clown", before finally signing off with a last cut from Anastasis, 'Return Of The She King'; a Gaelic stomp of magisterial and ceremonial proportions.
'In Concert' is a well captured set of tracks that show just how good the band are at performing their songs on the live stage. The sound quality is extremely good throughout; you are actually barely aware of an audience or that the recordings are live, which in some ways does make it somewhat redundant as an album unless you're an avid fan. That aside it is good to hear Brendan Parry and Lisa Gerrard back together performing as a band. If you'd like to hear them, they play The Roundhouse in London in July.
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