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Live Review: Dead Can Dance

4 February 2013 | 12:22 pm | Andrew McDonald

Each song felt like a gift; this was music held together with a delicate touch for open ears. And all those that heard it were thankful and moved.

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For Aussie expats, it sure has been a long time between drinks down under for Dead Can Dance. Their last show in Australia was over 20 years ago, so it was with much excitement and adoration they were greeted upon claiming the Opera House's Concert Hall stage as their own. Opening with the beautiful Children Of The Sun, Brendan Perry crooned in his deep baritone that they “are ancient/as ancient as the sun” – ushering in the musical landscape that was to envelope the Opera House for the next two hours.

Perry and the other half of DCD, Lisa Gerrard, were joined by five talented multi-instrumentalists who managed to bring the band's beautiful and majestic sound to life. Those familiar with the group's recorded output will know how complex the neo-classical/modern medieval-cum-Mediterranean traditionalist music can be, and it's a real miracle that, largely, the players were able to pull this off live. Though it would be hard to argue against the idea that Gerrard wasn't the star of the show. Clearly classically, perhaps operatically, trained, Gerrard's booming voice seems almost made for the venue. The band played a smattering of early and mid-'90s tunes, such as highlight Host Of The Seraphim in between the majority of their 2012 Anastasis and a handful of covers, including minimalist gothic classic This Mortal Coil's Dreams Made Flesh.

Dead Can Dance's music is certainly not for everyone – the group channels Gregorian chants, African beats, Middle Eastern mantras and what feels like a neo-classical tour of medieval Europe into their own brand of art rock. Though never the most culturally relevant of outfits, they have never tried to be. Each song felt like a gift; this was music held together with a delicate touch for open ears. And all those that heard it were thankful and moved.