Laurie Anderson - The End of the Moon

The Lowry Centre, Salford Quays
24th May 2005

Reviewed by Julian Bond

Best known for her early eighties hit ‘O Superman’ (no.2 in the British charts), Laurie Anderson, performance artist, poet, raconteur, violinist, was here with her latest show ‘The End of the Moon’. Beginning from a hallowed stage of low lighting and candles, she chatted in calm ironic detachment from an armchair about life, the universe, and everything before moving centre stage electric violin in hand to continue her observations and prognostics.

In fact Laurie Anderson was NASA’s (yes that’s right the space people) first and last ‘artist-in-residence’, she drolly explains and this show according to the program was ‘part travelogue, part personal theories, history and dreams’, looking at the relationship between ‘war, aesthetics, the space race, spirituality and consumerism. All of which makes it sound very interesting. Unfortunately it was quite the opposite. In her turn of phrase and play of tone, Ms Anderson is far too clever for her own good. I’m afraid to say it was mostly boring, melancholy but without substance, self-conscious of its own subtlety. Too many ‘first ideas’ which either should have been ditched or moved on made it into the show, which for £15 is unacceptable. This is art and culture for an elite, irrelevant to the vast majority.

The musical content itself was fragmented and not of a sufficient quality to rest a show on, close up camera shots on a large screen of an upside-down Anderson face neither do justify the entry price. Yes there were some good moments, a very funny section actually had Ms. Anderson recanting her hiking through the Californian countryside with her faithful Rat Terrier ‘Choola Bell’, whose consciousness was thrown into disarray by the novel experience of becoming potential prey for circling turkey vultures. But woolly liberal sentiments about the world having the right not to like Americans really deserve to remain in the Manhattan studio inhabited by the artist and her friends. There may be a hyper-link to The Lowry Arts Centre dehabitated as it is but walk a mile down the road to Manchester City Centre, or Liverpool City Centre for that matter and it is of no importance.

All of which is a pity for someone who managed with ‘O Superman’ to marry the unconventional with popularity. For some reason PIL’s highly imaginative use of sound and image come to mind of a way of successfully marrying the two. I fought to keep myself awake in the show and instead of waiting for the end of the moon wanted for the end of the show, with the irony and meaningless of it all, I half considered that there was no point in getting the tram back to Manchester City Centre but on second thoughts it seemed like a good idea.

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