Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 21, 2008
Daniel LanoisSXSW Live @ Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 14
SXSW brings out Daniel Lanois' type of crowd. Broadcast live for DirecTV in the Austin Convention Center's Bat Bar, the SXSW 03 keynoter filled the makeshift club with fans edging to get a better glimpse of his immaculate fretwork and the equally virtuosic drumming of legendary jazzman Brian Blade. The two opened with the 10-minute jam of "The Maker," Blade bruising the skins with fevered precision as Lanois bled beauty from his battered electric guitar. "Stillwater" scraped through a palimpsest of melodies paralleling Blade's contorted rhythms, explosions balancing the singer-songwriter's delicately dark croon with his producer's impulse to unravel the chords of sonic exploration. Unfortunately, Lanois only planted himself behind the pedal steel once, melding a two-part instrumental, right-hand fingers deftly dancing against the strings like a spider loosening vibrations across his web, shimmering and haunted. A pair of songs from Lanois' new album, Here Is What Is, also the title of a new documentary on the Quebecer, smoldered pensively in closing, Rocca Deluca joining for "Where Will I Be" with a trembling, Antony-esque falsetto.