Originally released in 1994, this record was an audio document of the band's 1993 sell-out world tour. Recorded at the Mayfair Theater in Santa Monica, CA, in front of an invited audience at the conclusion of the tour, the shows were also filmed with the intent of releasing a long form concert film. Includes twelve previously unrecorded Dead Can Dance tracks as well as material from their six previous studio albums.
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A great live album, and a great place to start
Eric Kelly | San Rafael, CA USA | 04/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One thing to bear in mind when choosing Dead Can Dance albums is that the duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry went through at least four distinct stylistic phases, so you may find that certain albums appeal much more than others. This live album is a wonderful starting point, because it straddles a broad range of their musical styles and abilities. Also, while most artists' live albums simply rehash their existing popular work, of the 15 tracks on this album, only four (Yulunga, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Cantara, and Song of the Sybil), have appeared on previous DCD releases, making this an individual album in its own right. (Studio versions of two of Lisa's tracks, Persian Love Song and Sanvean, later appeared on her solo Mirror Pool release.) Both performers have never sounded better vocally, and are backed by a band of multi-instrumentalists with impeccable musicianship.
The album opens with one of DCD's all time best tracks, Rakim, long a staple of their live shows but making its first official recorded appearance here. Brendan and Lisa work as an integrated team here, melding her shimmering yang ch'in (Chinese hammer dulcimer) and lilting vocals with his rich Sinatra-like baritone over a driving percussion beat. Percussion is also used to great effect on a later track, Oman, which has a somewhat African and middle eastern flavor. Lisa shines on her vocal showpieces of Persian Love Song, Yulunga, Cantara and Sanvean, demonstrating her amazing multi-octave vocal range. Haunting flutes feature prominently on Desert Song, Piece for Solo Flute, and I Am Stretched On Your Grave; the last is a masterpiece of gloomy goth stylings resonantly delivered by Brendan over an ominous drone. Tristan and Song of the Sybil feature the group in its traditional medieval mode.
The most surprising tracks on the album, which have no stylistic counterparts in DCD's studio work, are three original songs by Brendan: I Can See Now, American Dreaming, and Don't Fade Away. These find Brendan in a singer/songwriter mode, primarily accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, conjuring up comparisons to Tim Buckley and some of Bruce Springsteen's more introspective work. The last two tracks mentioned are among the best songs on the album, but if there is any criticism of them it is that they really don't fit stylistically with the rest of the album or the group's overall oeuvre. In fact, these songs foreshadowed the musical directions Brendan would pursue in his later solo album, Eye of the Hunter.
Listeners finding that they like the medieval styled tracks on the album should check out Aion. Those drawn to Cantara, I Am Stretched On Your Grave, Persian Love Song, and Sanvean should check out Within The Realm of a Dying Sun, Spleen and Ideal, and The Serpent's Egg, along with Lisa's solo album Mirror Pool. Those drawn to Yulunga and the more middle eastern tracks may want to check out Into The Labyrinth, which also features some more straightforward pop songs by Brendan, as of course does his solo album Eye of the Hunter."