Friday, 2 May 2008


I overcame the gods of travel conspiring against me yesterday evening. First there was a car strewn across the M3 on its side facing the wrong way with its passengers standing on the hard shoulder. This created a 20 minute penalty.

Then there was a brand new Citroen with what looked like the front wheels sticking out sideways collapsed right on the ramp leading to the bridge over the Hogarth's roundabout. Another 30 minute penalty.

So my math for Barbican arrival time changed as I ditched the car in Belgravia cabbed to the venue arriving to that tell tale sign of lateness, an empty lobby.

I sped, guided, through the confusing corridors of the Barbican and snuck into the darkened and candle-lit auditorium and Laurie Anderson was already playing and singing, with a familiar style and a small accompaniment of excellent musicians.

Homeland is a 90 minute work about America, with a mixture of sung and spoken commentary, a few off the wall observations and some ironic humour. As I settled into listening, the new work had a familiarity of style alongside a newness of content and topicality, with references to state control, experts telling experts about problems, US elections, the Iraq war ("anyone can join") as well as more familiar Anderson territory. I liked the segment about being able to look at the stars in wonder, knowing that man had not messed with them, but aware that mankind was reaching, reaching. Oh and that one day the last trumpet might sound, but it would have very sparkly EQ.

There was some voice processing and much signature clapping and percussive loop accompaniment alongside the strong ensemble of Peter Scherer on keyboard, Skuli Sverrisson on bass guitar and Okkyung Lee on violin. I was transported into the moment.

Homeland carries the distinctive form of other Laurie Anderson music, linked together in one continuous performance piece. I thought I'd somehow been remiss in not buying the CD along the way, but it dawned on me that this was all new music and I finally discovered that the album won't be available until 2009.

For me, the evening was like a very enjoyable conversation with a first rate artist performer.

Highline festival version of "Only an expert can deal with a problem"

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