Live Review, 8/12/2012: Dead Can Dance Hypnotizes Rabid Fans at the Greek Theatre

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Dead Can Dance at the Greek Theatre last night.
Dead Can Dance
Sunday, August 12, 2012
UC Berkeley, Greek Theatre


Better than: Listening to your Toward the Within CD while scribbling emo poetry.

Dead Can Dance didn't have to do much to get a standing ovation tonight. In fact, Lisa Gerrard, Brendan Perry, and the hired help got their first ovation simply for showing up, with the surprisingly chatty and vocally rambunctious audience rising wildly to its feet before the band even finished taking the stage. Two hours and three encores later, so much love had been directed towards Gerrard and Perry -- who release Anastasis, their first new Dead Can Dance album in over 15 years, on Tuesday -- that they almost seemed embarrassed.


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All that fresh material to promote naturally meant a setlist heavy with new tunes -- and by "heavy," we mean "the whole album." That's all well and good, we suppose, since Anastasis is a solid return to form after 1996's swan song, the underwhelming Spiritchaser. But even the most swooning superfans can have a hard time getting excited for songs they've never heard, regardless of how rich the vocals or mesmerizing the lights might be. Clearly undaunted, Gerrard's elegantly angelic vocals rose and shone during the Persian-tinged "Agape" and "Anabasis," while Perry brought his more earthbound croon to the debut single "Amnesia," the memory-haunted "Opium," and the set-closing slow ebb of "All in Good Time."

The back catalog was not entirely neglected, however, with "The Host of Seraphim" (from The Serpent's Egg), "Nierika" (from Spiritchaser), "Rakim" (from Toward the Within), "Sanvean" (from Gerrard's solo album The Mirror Pool), and especially "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" (from Into the Labyrinth) resulting in frothy responses from the audience. The encores brought unexpected treasures as well, including a double-nod to the band's 4AD Records past via two versions of songs from This Mortal Coil's It'll End in Tears album: Perry translated the Tim Buckley-penned "Song for the Siren" with Neil-Diamond-gone-goth melodrama, while Gerrard took "Dreams Made Flesh" and made it even more diaphanous than on record. But even if three encores and a somewhat uneven setlist didn't satisfy everyone in the crowd, there was a celebratory atmosphere at night's end nonetheless. Dead Can Dance had finally returned -- and, even better, they sounded like they had never left.

Critic's Notebook

Separated at Birth: Did anyone else think the keyboardist looked just like David Brooks, resident columnist for The New York Times?

Dude, You Must Chill: The guy behind us was so excited that he whooped and hollered like he was at a Tenacious D frat party instead of a head-nodding, NPR-approved world fusion concert full of elder goths and middle-aged crystal hippies. We get it -- you love Dead Can Dance. Now can you please cease your bellowing?

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Location Info

Venue

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UC Berkeley, Greek Theatre

(Gayley & University), Berkeley, CA

Category: Music

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4 comments
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mightydarwin
mightydarwin

Well, I guess we went to different shows. I was there, and although this was my first DCD live show I'm a long-time fan, and it was amazing. I'm still processing the experience. I took my wife, who had never heard them before really, except for once or twice when I would play them at home, and she was agape the whole time, smiling and clapping. I'm trying to find a way to see them again on this tour (maybe wait for the Asian or South American leg). I kinda understand batlady, though. But for different reasons. After 16 years recording hiatus (and 7 since the last tour) I would have predicted at least a three hour show. But I can only imagine that 41 cities scheduled so far (not including S.A. and Asia) would be very demanding on Lisa Gerrard's vocal cords. We do want there to be more DCD albums and tours, right? (and interviews on Pitchfork seem to indicate that is a real possibility!)And yes, notgothmark, you're the most amazing, unbiased, level-headed, non self-absorbed journalist ever in the history of journalism, in all dimensions. You deserve a Pulitzer.

notgothmark
notgothmark

I am a journalist blogger person. I have just seen a show. I must write my review with healthy skepticism of the motives behind the creative choices I've just seen. OK, no problem. Some of the people at the show bugged me too, because I am so level-headed and unbiased. Gah the people at the show would have swooned over anything that was put in front of them. I am above this, of course. I will write accordingly, with a little snark. Because I am a Journalist. Nevermind that most of the people who will read this will be fans of the band or people who attended the show. And that to them, this review will seem disconnected with what actually went down at the show. This is good journalism. 

batlady
batlady

I was excited to see the show but I have to agree somewhat with matthew299- it was a bit of a snoozer. When the DCD ended their set, I at first thought it was an intermission and then was surprised to see they had been playing for almost 2 hours. It was beautiful, ethereal, but... ?

I do like the new material and will purchase it but just wasn't super excited about the show.

matthew299
matthew299

Saw the show.  I own several CD's by DCD.  Like the music.  Totally boring show.  It was a non-show.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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