David Kuckherman - There is a quick opening set from DCD's touring percussionist. He plays handpan drums which he discusses here and provides lots of information about at his website. The drums are like steel drums pushed outward and are tuned to a scale. They sound like a cross between a steel drum and a hammered dulcimer. He provided a quick 25 minute set of top notch percussion and even made a tambourine sound amazing for one song. He was joined by a female vocalist for the last song who would also feature on vocals and keyboards in the main set. Nice warm-up.
Dead Can Dance - It took one of my favorite all time bands to get me out to Wolf Trap for the first time. It reminds me of Red Rocks in my old home of Colorado and it was nice to see the band draw such a large and diverse crowd for the show tonight. The crowd's diversity is especially pleasing as DCD's sound is quite diverse with its sources of ancient, classical, folk, prog, and goth music. Yet Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry harness it and create some of the most focused and lushly powerful music in recent history. I saw them before they disbanded over 16 years ago and caught them once at a reunion show at the Strathmore several years back. The news that they have a brand new album just released is great (and it is streaming in full at their site). It is nice that they are working together and releasing new material in addition to touring the globe. Yet, I have to say that the focus on newer material diminished the set tonight. I hate sounding like the uber-fan that wants to hear all the old hits, but some of the new material was not only unfamiliar but did not consistently have the power of that of the cut from Aion that they performed. Also the band was not quite as exotic and intense as in previous tours. There were drums, percussion, and two keyboards with a guy sneaking onstage to add some bass now and then. Perry and Gerrard added hammered dulcimers, citterns, and guitars as well. But would I do this show again? Absolutely, as the vocal work was every bit as magisterial as in past shows. Lisa Gerrard is amazing and few vocalists on this planet could live up to that regal blue dress and gold cape she was wearing. She looked every bit the queen, or maybe like Helen Mirren at least. Perry's voice had that soothing yet powerful presence as well. There were still many transcendent moments in the set. Although one of them was NOT inviting George Clinton to the stage (look carefully at the Wolf Trap program excerpt above). So even the third best Dead Can Dance performance was a highly enjoyable show featuring two of the more creative and talented people I have ever heard.
Quote of the Night: From a guy sitting behind me behind me some time during the 28 minutes between acts and dedicated to those that think I complain too much about late starts... "8:30 pm? Come on!"