Published Mar 04, 2015By the time darkness embraced the sun-warmed exterior of Victoria's Alix Goolden Hall on Tuesday night, a line of musical pilgrims had already wound their way around the block. The Goolden, an architectural ode to the power of song, provided a fitting space for Canadian legend Daniel Lanois to inhabit on this, the first Canadian date of his Flesh and Machine tour; the hall, like Lanois himself, consistently summons and seduces the musical muse.
Lanois took the stage early to introduce the evening's opener, Rocco DeLuca, who immediately set to work invoking buried spirits with his polished lap steel. DeLuca's hauntingly fragile voice is reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's, and quickly won over the Goolden's capacity crowd. Lanois returned to the stage three songs in to accompany DeLuca on both guitar and lap steel, and the pair's evocative set perfectly set the stage for Lanois'.
After a brief intermission, Lanois returned to the stage with his four-piece band. Lanois took the helm of his lap-steel, an instrument he later described as his first and most enduring love, for the band's first song, an improvised soundscape over which he shouted out chord changes to his band. The song evoked the ethereal yet definitive quality Lanois consistently lends to the albums he produces; masterworks such as Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind and Willie Nelson's Teatro obviously owe much to the atmospheric magic Lanois effortlessly created throughout this evening.
Lanois' set, a sprawling composite of his entire discography, managed to weave together an eclectic array of songs, both new and old. While the crowd seemed more receptive to older material such as "The Maker" and "The Messenger," Lanois remained true to his newfound, Eno-inspired appreciation for less commercial music as he challenged his audience with songs he described as written with "the intention to break new ground sonically and bring music to the future."
Lanois' closing song, a Venezuelan-inspired electronic number, provided an interesting and jarring contrast to the set's beginning. A backdrop of disarming, almost seizure-inducing images flashed upon the screen, urging Lanois and his band further into new and exciting musical territory. It remains to be seen, however, if Lanois' loyal fan base, represented on Tuesday night (March 3) by those who faithfully gathered at the Goolden, are brave enough to follow.