When Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance and Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins decided to double headline we thought it only appropriate to send a fleet of reporters out to cover the event: one for each headliner and one for both! Seen at Belly Up at their San Diego CA show, Mike, Raven, and Gary weigh in on this dream darkwave double bill.
Did he play the hits?
Gary: Brendan Perry is not really a “hit machine”, so hard to say. He did a couple of crowd pleasers, but the man doesn’t have “hits”.
Raven: Yes he did. It was a nice mix of the newer and older tracks. Was interesting hearing him sing Song to the Siren, I loved every second of it!
Mike: I can honesty say that back in the day, the Dead Can Dance crazy passed me by, so I don’t know if they played any hits. Plus he has a solo career. What I can tell you is this: His voice was amazing. All that vocal nuance and dynamics and pitch control that you just don’t hear very much any more was absolutely mind-blowing. Now I feel dumb for writing them off as “just another goth band”. I should have been paying attention.
Was the new record worth hearing?
Raven: Record? I remember those. Ark was out in 2010 but it was nice to hear some of it live for sure. His solo stuff has more of a story telling element than the Dead Can Dance era.
Gary: Absolutely! Brendan’s musical vision is intoxicating yet sobering, refined yet raw, ancient yet modern. I don’t really know anyone else able to pull that off.
Mike: There was a guy with a Mac Book Pro on stage, that spent a few songs doing nothing, so when he suddenly looked really busy and the keyboard chick looked bored, I assumed these were songs from the new record. If this is true, then yes. They sounded like a different flavor of the old stuff, but good. Certainly good.
Did he do new stuff?
Mike: I have no idea. I didn’t recognize anything. But I’m sticking by the Mac thing above. If Technics Turntables were the new guitars in the 1990’s, then Mac Book Pro’s are the new Technics Turntables in the 2000’s.
Raven: Well he did do some of the newer stuff yes. Most bands who have electronic tracks use laptop/ macs. You will not always see them, but you could in this case. It did not detract from the amazing music and that haunting voice at all.
Gary: As a former member of Dead Can Dance, and now with a couple of solo albums, I would say he did NOT do older material. I believe he did one (maybe two?) Dead Can Dance tracks, and all the rest were from his solo material of the last few years.
Did he still rock?
Gary: Brendan is a great performer, though I did miss the onstage magic of a DCD show, with full percussion and backing artists. This tour was a small-club, subdued event. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Yeah, I think he rocked it.
Mike: If by “rock” you mean put on a good show, then yes. Brendan Perry brought the goods – and then some. I still can’t get over that voice of his. I typically don’t like this brand of male vocal. I’m more of an Interpol guy. With a soft spot for Elliott Smith. But he sold me. I’m now a fan of a male singer who emotes and gets into your heart. Damn your Brendan for making me FEEL something!
Raven: Rock your soul, yes! Its not a typical concert, its a dreamscape of music, tones and voice that touches your soul. The type of music you get lost in but want to stay in. Brendans voice has always got to me. His voice cracks and breaks in all the right places, bringing emotional depth that no man made instrument can touch.
Was it worth turning up for the opener?
Mike: The opener was the reason I went. I’m a Cocteau Twins fan. I was a little disappointed because what we got was an hour or so of what sounded like the newer Cocteau Twins stuff without the vocals. It was pretty and drifty and ethereal – and the guitar work was amazing, but I would have like to have heard versions of Wax and Wane or their earlier 80’s stuff. Wow, that makes me sound like such a hipster snob. But that’s how I felt. Still, I was happy to be there. He did a bunch of that early 90’s guitar sampling and looping and playing over himself that I forgot people used to do before Mac Book Pro’s became musical instruments. Old school coolness.
Raven: Saying it was an opening act does not do it justice. Robin Guthrie as part of the Cocteau Twins, was and still is amazing. What I found interesting was listening to him without a singer. His guitar and music was bordering on surf music, or desert music. No singer took it to a different place that I did not expect.
Gary: The opener is a legend in his own right (Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins). I’m sure many in the audience were there more for Robin than Brendan. I’ve never been a fan of the Cocteau Twins, but I have to say his style is definitely unique and easily identifiable. Think Twin Peaks meets elevator music meets a HEAVY dose of reverb and you’re set. Wake me up when Robin’s done playing….ZZzzzzzzzz…..oh wait, apparently with all the looping and reverb, Robin HIMSELF is able to nap on stage in the middle of his songs! I can’t tell you how many times I watched his hands doing NOTHING on the guitar as the sound swirled around the club for MINUTES! It wasn’t “annoying” but I could have easly skipped the opener. I realize I may be in the minority here.
Was it worth getting my butt off the sofa to see?
Gary: Getting off the sofa??? The first time I saw Brendan Perry (performing with Lisa Gerrard as Dead Can Dance) I flew 750+ miles to attend the show. This time, I drove 350+ miles. I don’t regret either trip. Worth every effort and every penny.
Raven: I almost drove to LA to see him so was nice he played in a venue 40 mins away instead of a 2 hour drive. I do not usually sit during shows, but this is a different type of show and enjoyed it immensely.
Mike: Hell yes. San Diego is the size of a small European Country, so seeing a band can be quite a drive. This was my first time at the Belly Up (the venue) and I heart it. Great sound, great layout, and the bartender lent me a pen because I forgot mine. I wish they weren’t 40 minutes from my house.
Was he still cute?
Mike: I dont think I ever knew what any of these guys looked like back in the day. All those 4AD record jackets with photos of lace and blurry colors didn’t help either. I just assumed they were all ghosts. But as an aging ex-hipster who happens to be gay, I found both of them attractive.
Gary: While I find his shaved head look more attractive than his prior ginger-headed-hippie-fairy-lumberjack looks, I can’t answer this question because unlike a Duran Duran or Poison, he was never about a physical image.
Raven: Well I personally never thought he was cute but that voice makes him dead sexy. Purrrrrr!