Dead Can Dance Wed. 10-20-93

Roxy Theatre, Atlanta GA

Reviewed by Paul W. Cashman

I had the privilege of seeing Dead Can Dance on the first date of their limited tour last Wednesday, October 20th, at the Roxy Theatre in Atlanta. I recommend that any fans of DCD or of their unique style of music check them out if they's truly an experience that will seldom be repeated.

At the time, I had only heard PASSAGE THROUGH TIME and a few scattered tracks from other albums, and my compadre Tim had almost nil experience with DCD, but he was mightily curious to see the band that sold out the Roxy in 40 minutes....

The show had been sold out since day one, and since it was the farthest south they were touring, a number of fans drove up from great distances to see them. Some were, alas, turned away at the door after travelling 5 and 6 hours. Others who we met were from places like Orlando, Charleston SC, etc. These are some dedicated fans, here!

We arrived at about the time the show started. We didn't have tickets, but my friend Tim knows many of the people who work at the Roxy, and so we were hoping..... As we walked up, we were accosted no less than five times by hopeful fans -- "Got any extra tickets?" We shrugged; we were in the same boat, even though we'd driven a shorter distance.

Unfortunately, none of Tim's friends were working the door or near it, so we kinda hung about the entrance for a while; the show was in progress after a 15-minute late start. After a bit, I noticed that one chap with glasses and a balding head had picked up a laminate badge at the window and some tickets, and was passing them out to some waiting fans. I nudged Tim (who has a way with these sorts of things) and when the guy walked around the building, Tim followed him and asked him (jokingly, I'm sure) if there were any other tickets available. The guy said "Yea, but they might be SRO tickets." Tim told him heck, anything to get in the door, and the guy went back to the box office and started raiding through the leftover will-call tickets, looking for reserved seats. He handed us tickets -- and backstage passes!

Inside, we beheld one of the most diverse audiences I've ever seen at a show. Rubbing elbows in the lobby were vampires, metalheads, old-school punks, art-fags (that was their affectionate term, not mine :)), mallternative kids, yuppies and preppies in their Wednesday best; just about everyone except skinheads. There were no open seats in my row and the volunteer usher didn't want to clear one, so I ended up standing where I could. Happily I was able to find a seat just long enough to enjoy "Cantara", my favorite song. We had missed at least half the show, but we weren't about to complain. :)

DCD's performance was stunning. They were remarkably true to their studio albums, and during elaborate numbers 7 or 8 people were all on stage doing all sorts of weird things and making sounds; a very active panoply of movement. It's hard indeed to pigeonhole DCD stylistically -- they are equal parts Gaelic chants, tribal rhythms, sonorous male vocals, and infectious percussion. You really have to hear them to believe it.

One of the keyboardists who came out on stage was -- to our amazement -- the same chap who'd gifted us with tickets! Both lead singers, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, were right on the money, vocally. Perry plays a hurdy-gurdy onstage, the first and maybe the last time I'll ever see such a performance in the flesh. :) The audience, well-mannered, nevertheless demanded two encores and got them.

The backstage area at the Roxy is tiny, so after mixing for a short while (Brendan P. was quite affable, nicest hurdy-gurdy player -I'll- ever meet :)) we went outside to get some non-smoky air. A fan and his girlfriend from Charleston had a poster outside they dearly wanted autographed, so we let him borrow one of our passes -- instant dream come true. We left in high spirits and felt we had been treated to a good time. Our only regret is that we couldn't see the beginning part of the show.

Dead Can Dance played Atlanta again August 17, 1996 at Symphony Hall (!) in support of Spiritchaser, and although I had two tickets, I couldn't go. A good friend of mine from college who later moved to Massachusetts was in town, and since I hadn't seen him in seven years, I sold my two tickets at cost to my good friend Chris, who went with his girlfriend, got backstage with the band (except Lisa G.), etc. I'll see them next tour, never fear!

Copyright © 1993 Paul W. Cashman

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