Laurie Anderson – All the Animals

Taking a short break from the combination of marking examinations and listening to cricket which has been my Bank Holiday Monday so far, so I thought I’d post a brief report on the show I went to last night, which happened to be the last night of this year’s Brighton Festival.

All the Animals was a show put together especially for this year’s Brighton Festival by renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson. She is most famous (at least in the UK) for the amazing record O Superman which was a smash hit in 1981; I posted about that on this blog here. A large number of last night’s audience members were clearly devout Laurie Anderson fans but I’ve never seen one of her live shows so wasn’t sure what to expect.

It turned out to be very much a one-woman show, with Laurie Anderson alone on stage. The show consisted of her telling stories about various animals, including her own pet terrier, Lula Belle, who is now sadly deceased. In between the stories there were musical interludes, with herself performing on an electric violin with various digital effects thrown in, and sometimes she accompanied herself as she performed the stories. The show was shot through with a wry humour and Laurie Anderson herself came across as a very engaging personality.

I had been told that her performances were often dazzling multimedia events, but this turned out not to be like that at all. The big screen at the back of the stage was only used a couple of times, once to show excerpts from a list of extinct animal species and once to show a couple of Youtube clips of Lula Belle. There were no dramatic lighting or other effects either. It was all very low key really. Far from the multimedia extravaganza I had anticipated.

There was enthusiastic applause at the end of the show, but to be honest I felt a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed the show, and still think Laurie Anderson is a really interesting artist but I suppose I just built up in myself an expectation of something with a more exciting visual element.

So that’s the end of this year’s Brighton Festival. Still, yesterday I posted the following tweet:

I guess all three predictions proved false. England didn’t lose on Sunday and indeed are very much favourites to win the Test match as I write this. Newcastle United won their game against West Ham and avoided relegation to the Championship. And Laurie Anderson, though definitely interesting, didn’t quite qualify as “fabulous”…

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