Live Review: In Dreams, David Lynch Revisited

18 March 2015 | 4:04 pm | Amy Summer

This Australian line up pay tribute to the surrealist film director.

A man wearing long red gloves steps onto the stage, lit by a single spotlight. He starts to play, softly at first, slowly drawing us into a heady trance. When we realise that the metal instrument he’s bending to create these beautiful sounds is actually a musical handsaw, we know that the Lynchian dream has begun.

In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited, performed tonight at the Sydney Opera House, originally debuted at the Barbican Centre in London. This Australian incarnation has an eclectic line-up that includes Sarah Blasko, Mick Harvey, Kirin J. Callinan, Sophia Brous and Cibo Matto amongs others. A tribute to the iconic filmmaker’s musical explorations, the show features Lynch’s cinematic soundtracks from, among others, Twin Peaks and Mulholland Drive, as well as his warped reinterpreatations of songs from popular culture. 

At times the show is uplifting and surreal, at others nightmarish and uncomfortable, as different elements of the Lynchian dreamscape are activated. Each performer hypnotises us, leading us along like the Pied Piper, and we were drawn in at every moment, from Mick Harvey’s heavily distorted, alien vocals to Sarah Blasko’s mesmerising rendition of Nightingale.

A high point of the show was Sophia Brous’ performance of Blue Velvet, her voice like honey rising above the dissonance and chaos that came before. But this intoxicating pleasure is momentary, inevitably punctured by Kirin J. Callinan slamming his guitar to grating, ear-bruising effect. As in Lynch’s films, even moments of immense delight carry the threat of imminent danger, leaving you constantly on the brink of vertigo. 

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A hugely compelling exploration of Lynch’s sonic repertoire, the show ended with his version of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. As we floated back down to reality, the lyrics of this song seemed to linger with us:  

“What a wicked game to play, to make me feel this way.

What a wicked thing to do, to let me dream of you…”