Daniel Lanois. The Lantern, Colston Hall.
THE master producer & soundscape engineer. 300 capacity venue inside Colston Hall.
I’ll confess I didn’t read the blurb properly so I knew it was Dan Lanois, producer extraordinaire, but I hadn’t realised it was him solo playing his most recent concept album. I love the Lantern, I’ve gone on about it already but it really is a lovely addition to the Hall, providing a space that is both intimate (maximum capacity less than 300) and yet spacious (the ceiling is about a mile high).
I was still excited; I’d seen him play the Wrecking Ball album with Emmylou Harris in the main hall a few years ago, where he had also provided the support. And as the producer of some of the greatest albums of all time, he certainly understands sound so I knew whatever he did it would be woth hearing.
I went with my friend Janine, who had taken me to Evelyn Glennie, we have agreed to go to a gig with some singing next time :). There were 2 support acts, both of whom played their guitars with violin bows and were wearing black and lit so badly it was as if we were in a power cut. In terms of setting the tone for what was to come, they did well, but I was somewhat perplexed if I’m honest. I’ll let Janine sum it up “I preferred the first one, I could see him for a start!”
Main event. Mr Lanois. Who showed us very quickly and very clearly that we were in the hands of a master. He opened with a lap steel guitar piece. Played on what he later explained was his first instrument, the original one he began playing aged 9. It’s one of my favourite instruments, he played it in ways I’ve never heard before. It was strange, disconcerting, beautiful and jarring all at once. The physicality involved in stretching, bending and blending the strings was quite something to watch.
Then he moved over to. To. To. Well I don’t know what it was. Some sort of console/platform/space pod. It produced sounds that made me think we were all in rocketship about to be taken up into the skies. Which we kind of were. It was a rave/dance/dub reggae/trance/rock/art installation/happening kind of event. I can’t really describe it. It just was. And it was amazing. At times it felt like appropriate behaviour would have been to munch a handful of E’s and rave as if it were the second summer of love. At other points, chin stroking art critics in the Tate Modern would have felt at home. It was experimental. It was creative. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever seen or will see. It was painting with sounds and visuals to create musical art.
He is a unique talent, who produces art music that’s accessible whilst remaining strange. I wasn’t capable of writing about it last night, I needed time to process what I had witnessed, I still need time to process it. It’s certainly the strangest gig I’ve ever been to. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 40 gigs is in part a voyage of discovery and Daniel Lanois in his space console sound cage certainly took me on one last night.
9 down. 31 to go.