Friday the 13th turned out to be quite lucky for me. I added another entry to my book of dreams by seeing Laurie Anderson in her Homeland show, part of this year's Luminato Festival.
From the time I was introduced to her opus United States by a university radio pal, I'd wanted to see her perform live but somehow, never managed it. This time, I was at the ready and secured 3rd row seats where there was little to distract me. I won't even mention the girl beside me who slept soundly through most of the show, apparently tired from having spent the first few songs making out with her boyfriend.
I'd read that Homeland was built around themes of fear, obsession and paranoia in America post 9/11 and was a little apprehensive. Would it be too dark and dire? Too like my heart? Could I bear it? I worried needlessly.
In and among the serious and reflective was a lot of humour, artistry and deft commentary. Aim was taken at Al Gore's trophy case, Oprah's couch, John McCain and several other worthy targets. She also ruminated on a variety of subjects from the beginning of memory to billboard underwear models and set it all to compelling music.
There were bursts of pounding energy and moments made for closing your eyes and feeling the universe expand (without the need for medication). There were songs and stories, some in Laurie's own voice and some run through her voice enhancer which provided surprising nuance. Sitting in with the accomplished band (percussionist Joey Baron, keyboard wiz Rob Burger and bassist Greg Cohen) for the last few numbers was none other than the legendary Lou Reed. It was a real treat to see and hear him play along and sing.
The set was simple with a few bare bulbs hanging and scores of small white candles arranged around the stage. While wrapped in Ms. Anderson's warm electronic embrace, I took them to be planets and stars (perhaps the need for medication?).
Although the show was conceived as one continuous piece, ovations and praise found their way in whenever possible. While it would have been wonderful to have an encore, I felt the integrity of the piece was better maintained without it. Watching the players carefully tiptoe through the array of candles for three bows was an end fitting enough for me.
Apart from the thrill of seeing and enjoying the show so much, the people-watching was of course exquisite. Rarely have I seen so many inflicting so much very personal style on the rest of us. I'll just call them Strange Angels and be done with it.
Thank you Laurie Anderson for a most excellent evening and I hope to see you again soon.