If I must find an adjective for Sunday night’s concert by the reformed Dead Can Dance at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, it is “rapturous.” A hall that ended up packed (some people obviously thought the opening act by David Kuckhermann, a member of the troupe who specializes in the percussive Swiss instrument, the Hang, would last at least 45 minutes or an hour instead of 20 minutes).
Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard were in fine, fine voice, and the other four musicians nailed every single moment, hit every note, thundered through Middle Eastern, African, Greek, and who knows how many other rhythms and flows of sound. They performed their new album, Anastasis, in its entirety. (The word is Greek for “resurrection,” which seems most fitting for this incarnation of DCD.) Afterwards they slid through everything from Perry’s definitive “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” to Gerrard’s transcendant theme from the film Gladiator.
As well as Kuckhermann’s versatile percussion, there was Astrid Williamson on keyboards and backing vocals, who did stellar work deserving a lot of praise. She’s working in the shadow of the artistry of Gerrard, so I want to give her a lot of praise for her contributions. Likewise James Maxwell and Dan Gresson (keyboards and percussion respectively) made the stage explode behind Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry.
Perry has a vaguely sinister humor, at one point in the darkness and silence simply saying, “Boo!” to the crowd. Gerrard, dressed if anything like Eleanor of Aquitaine, did not speak a single word outside of her remarkable glossolalia until the very last moment of the concert–after the third encore. And that should tell you just how much the entire hall was in thrall to Dead Can Dance.