Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Gentlemen, Gird Your Hurdies!

"We're really going?" I ask in disbelief, "for really real?" Loreena McKennit doesn't tour very often, and somehow it didn't occur to me that if she did, I could actually go.

My love affair with Loreena started in an off-beat import store near campus. A friend had a mission. I was just along for the ride, but when the clerk asked, "can I help you?" I answered, "yes, I'm looking for an artist I never heard of who sounds like a cross between Jethro Tull, Enya, and old Led Zeppelin ballads." The poor boy fled; I thought nothing more of it. He returned about 15 minutes later with The Visit. Thus it began.

You know how most studio recordings are better quality than live? They lack the electric energy, but offer so much more control, so much more instrumental possibility. Well, tonight blows that theory out of the water.

Loreena's voice, amazing on her albums, thrills me with her power. The 7 other musicians on stage play an encyclopedia of instruments ranging from an electric guitar to a hurdy gurdy. Animal, from the Muppet Show, is on drums.

The instruments vie for autonomy-- and domination. More than once the electic guitar and fiddle BATTLE full-out in exquisitely ordered chaos. The sounds from centuries and a hundred countries are all going different directions. They seem like they should grate and jar yet they somehow meld together into a rich, intoxicating unity.

Even from a distance, the music pounds against me, drives itself into the spaces between my cells and shakes my soul. I can almost see the maelstrom of music on the stage, want to throw myself in the middle of that frenzy.

We end the evening gazing out at DC over Pinot Noir. The railing around the Hotel Washington's Sky Terrace is solid-- I lean waaaaaaay out to drink in the sights, the lights. The gentleman next to us talks about watching the presidents helicopter land a couple of buildings over. I comb the rooftops for SWAT men, to no avail.

1 comment:

  1. When Loreena introduced Animal and he gave the Universal Rock On sign, I knew we were in trouble. :-)

    I'll have to have a word with the SWAT Teams...