Thursday 22 February 2018

Laurie delivers monologues with sugar and high-flown portentousness

  • Electronic: Laurie Anderson, National Concert Hall, Dublin

  • Pop: Take That, 3Arena, Dublin

Ed Power

Ed Power

Laurie Anderson's three-night residency at the NCH begins with a performance of 'Language of the Future' - a meditation on place and memory and how they intersect with politics in the Age of Trump. That sounds like a lot to chew on and artschool pretensions are never far away.

Anderson delivers dreamy soliloquies that drift between conversational and deeply affected. Over her shoulder, a video screen projects images that often chime thematically but sometimes seem perplexing just for the sake of it.

A picture of Henry David Thoreau's 19th century writing shack speaks to our yearning for belonging, but a map of Manhattan - under which giant disembodied letters drift - feels merely surreal. Anderson was famously the life partner of the late Lou Reed.

Yet, where his default setting was brooding inscrutability, she presents an open-hearted face. Amid monologues, Anderson plays bursts of violin, the minimalism offset by the sweetness with which the pieces are rendered.

There is humour too: at one point she puts a sort of transmitter in her mouth and hums maniacally, like a Dalek. She is never less than amiable and it helps that she has an unthreatening voice, so that even her loftiest incantations are conveyed in a folksy lilt. Before us stands one of the great multimedia strategists of the past 30 years. Her greatest gift may be for feeding her audience high-flown portentousness while convincing them she is merely furnishing spoonfuls of sugar.

* Take That are the comeback kings of modern pop. They've never let a line-up change get in the way of scoring a hit.

Even though they're now a slimmed-down version of their former selves fronted by Gary Barlow and flanked by Howard Donald and Mark Owen, they still do a great show, packing them in for two nights in the country's largest indoor venue.

While Take That make all the headlines, the support act is also a 90s pop institution. All Saints are a slick and smooth girl band who do sophisticated slo-mo pop better than most. 'Never Ever' is a towering highlight. But the punters have booked their tickets to see Barlow and company.

Take That have a long deserved reputation for going the extra mile to deliver a jaw-dropping pop show, and they certainly don't disappoint for their 25th anniversary tour.

Opening with 'Wonderland', the stage set is so lavish that an announcer floats on a magic carpet. 'Greatest Day' prompts a mass singalong with Barlow milking the crowd's delirious enthusiasm. While this is supposed to be a trip down memory lane, Take That have a few aces up their sleeves.

'Giants' is a glossy power pop anthem that works a treat and perfectly segues into the safe material. It is almost inevitable that Jason Orange and Robbie Williams will return to the fray for a full tour, but until that happens, these three amigos are more than capable of keeping the show on the road.

- Eamon Sweeney

Irish Independent

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