A meager crowd of only 150 or so at this event could only be chalked up to a lack of name brand recognition, because once I told people that the driving forces behind the Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance were playing at the intimate Venue night club in Vancouver, I instantly had a posse of six to accompany me. I now regret not starting the recruiting drive weeks earlier.
Robin Guthrie (Cocteaus minus Liz Fraser) and Brendan Perry (DCD minus Lisa Gerrard) are the Bjorn and Benny of the 4AD set: the men behind the women and the driving forces behind a now-iconic genre. You can peg their distinctive, atmospheric vibes in two notes, even if you can’t remember a song or album title.
Unfortunately, I missed the first part of opener Guthrie's set, not anticipating a 9pm sharp start at a bar gig. Nevertheless, despite being an instrumentalist, the lushness and depth of the ambience he seduces out of his guitar musically encroaches heaven on earth (aka Las Vegas).
Augmented visually by a trippy, cloud-laden backdrop – like a PowerPoint presentation on steroids – the overall effect when combined with Guthrie’s lush sound was overwhelming and enrapturing. While I had assumed he would be solo, the addition of a rhythm section both grounded and augmented the surreal, transcendental element of the set, which was meant to promote Guthrie's latest aural offering, Emeralds.
Guthrie, however, did dispatch his cohorts at the set’s end and single-handedly demonstrated – literally – what a force beyond nature he is.
As a reflex, I want to say that Guthrie’s Cocteau Twins partner Fraser was missed, but that would be an outright lie. Robin, although not much to look at, produced music of such stature that he overshadowed his own Cocteau's legacy, actualizing the credo of “letting the music do the talking.”