I’m still not sure if Laurie Anderson is a master artist or a hypnotist. Or both. Late in the performance, from my vantage point of the exact last row of the highest balcony (about even with the moon, which felt appropriate) something happened with the lights and the candles and her velvety voice that made it appear—I’m not being metaphorical, this is what I was seeing—that the candles had morphed into a vertical wall behind her, and she was floating in front of them. I think it was at that point that I gave in and let myself float away on a bed of soft voices and tripped out turbo-viola.
All that aside, there were several moments when I found myself surprisingly and inexplicably tearful. The story about her dog’s shift in view once he got assaulted by vultures from the air was a lovely allegory for how we feel as a country post 9/11, and one that somehow circumvented politics and network news faux-gravity. At some point I realized that in her unassuming way she was holding an audience of 800+ in the palm of her hand—absolutely mesmerized. Thinking back, this is the kind of performance I want to savor, like a silent walk in the forest. It was delicate and deceptively simple—if I wasn’t careful, I’d think the whole thing was as complicated as a nice bedtime story, but taking it apart in my mind I realize how much thought and care (not to mention electronics) went into its construction. It has the balance and light touch of a fairy tale, a river that is shimmering and pretty on the surface, with sharp rocks and a wicked current underneath.
Then again, I might still be hypnotized.
Faith Helma