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Electric Picnic 2010 - Brendan Perry

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ATL | 22:33 UK time, Saturday, 4 September 2010

Cosby Stage, Saturday 4th September, 9.15pm

Describe in a tweet
: It's starting to get cold tonight, but it just got a whole lot more chilly...

What Happened: This is a baffling one. Imagine a songwriter with brilliant songs, and an amazing voice with which to deliver them. Then place him with a band of incredible musicians, all in complete mastery of their instruments. And then, as the icing on the cake, give those songs the most appallingly "tasteful" arrangements possible. Then give yourself a good, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why you would want to such a terrible thing.

Brendan Perry (formerly half of 4AD band Dead Can Dance) is possessed with a deep, sonorous voice, a rich instrument which can dive to the depths of the oceans, or soar in the sky. But tonight that voice is framed in chilly textures, and self-consciously 'modern' touches, which make the whole performance slightly uncomfortable viewing. It's not that the performance itself is the problem, but rather that any life these songs exhibited is strangled at birth. Mid-set, Perry breaks into a magisterial cover version of Tim Buckley's 'Song to the Siren' (popularised by his old 4AD labelmates The Cocteau Twins), accompanied simply by his own heavily delayed guitar and the occasional wash of synth. It's beautiful, absolutely captivating stuff, and a frustrating hint at what could have been.

Perhaps there will come a day when Perry is able to give these songs the treatment they deserve, and that will be the day that the man's subtle charms reveal themselves for what they are.

Electric Dreams: The aformentioned cover of 'Song to the Siren' is incredible, easily the rival of The Cocteau Twins' more recognised version (even though Perry's version reads as a cover of the Cocteau's rendition, rather than the original).

Ants at my picnic: The glacial chill of the music is completely uninvolving, a problem not helped by Perry's reticent stage presence.

EP Rating: 5/10

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