Sung and spoken wit

Pub date October 21, 2008
WriterRobert Avila
SectionArts & CultureSectionStage

PREVIEW Last year saw the re-release of performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson’s 1982 debut, Big Science (Warner Bros.). What a heady nostalgia its lo-fi cover invokes, a confidence now gone quaint with the one-time fad of robotic gestures, lab coats, and test-tube weirdness. It’s just cute the way the ’80s were catching up with the future.

But recently the recording’s opening track, the eerie and wacky "From the Air," has been on shuffle rotation in the iPod of the brain as one of the more apt commentaries on present madness. It’s hard to think of a better metaphor for the situation we find ourselves in than a surprise crash landing that seems somehow not to be a surprise at all. And while we’re at it, neither has time bled any of the force from "O Superman," the disc’s surprise chart-topper. How good to know Anderson is still successfully tackling this machine mother of an illusion, "America," in her latest venture: a witty, haunting, and even uncharacteristically irate collection of sung and spoken pieces under the spot-on title of Homeland. The tour makes its way to UC Berkeley this week. Possible bonus: punk rock’s grouchy godfather and Anderson’s companion, Lou Reed, reportedly has shadowed her shows and sat in on a couple of numbers.

LAURIE ANDERSON’S HOMELAND Fri/24-Sat/25, 8 p.m., $28–$56. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Berk. (510) 642-9988,