After seeing Laurie Anderson in concert last night, I have to say that I’m a convert. Anderson’s blend of performance art isn’t for everyone. Even Anderson herself will admit as much. But in her latest work, Homeland, it’s clear that she’s let go of some of the visual gimmickry of years past. The topics are serious (national security, global warming), but the delivery is, actually, kind of funny. It’s almost a bit Jon Stewart, if Jon Stewart were a pixie-haired, 60ish art rocker. You know that moment when Stewart looks directly into the camera, shrugs his shoulders, and gives us that “well, what are ya gonna do?” facial expression? That’s Anderson. She’s just telling us some stories and poking fun at the ridiculousness of everyday life.
Now imagine little elfin Laurie Anderson poking fun while using a voice filter that lowers her speech several octaves. Confused? Here’s another clip. (It’s old school—meaning not Homeland—but you get the idea.) Anderson is difficult to describe, but that’s really the best I can do: poetry reading on musical steroids with a dash of technologically altered Jon Stewart delivery. Or perhaps Stewart is channeling Anderson? Because I’m pretty sure Stewart was still in diapers when “Mach 20” came out. Does anyone else see the connection?
Photograph: Courtesy of Laurie Anderson