When Dead Can Dance co-founder Brendan Perry is strumming onstage next to his otherworldly voiced bandmate Lisa Gerrard, he hardly notices the soft play of violet and aquamarine lights flickering over him. Singing with his eyes shut, he isn’t overly conscious of what happens around him, and is in a “very special place” by the end of the set. With no distractions, he makes every intricate note count, like the group does on its ethereal new live recording, “In Concert.” The group plays Davies Symphony Hall this week. Never seen them? It’s a stunning sensory experience that’s not to be missed.
When your eyes are shut onstage, what do you envision?
I get all sorts of thoughts, and they can be pretty mundane things, like a conversation you had earlier on or something on your mind. But I try to get into the moment, get into character, into that state of mind of when I actually wrote the music in the first place.
Ever get so entranced that you flub a lyric?
I’m terrible when it comes to remembering lines! And if anything breaks the flow, I get kind of lost — that’s another reason why I have to concentrate. But you know, if I forget lines, I just sing imaginary words with the same melody.
Just like Lisa does already?
Ha! Exactly. Yeah!
Have you ever had hecklers?
Sometimes. But there was one serious incident. We played Russia last year, two concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow. We came out in support of Pussy Riot, and we made it well-known beforehand that we were going to dedicate the concerts to them. The government authorities actually sent down professionals that they planted in the St. Petersburg audience who shouted out things like, “You don’t scare us!” Trying to provoke us. Which I’ve never experienced before — a politically oriented group of hecklers in your audience that are under the pay of some very shadowy forces. It was a quite dark and strange atmosphere.
And your weirdest show, ever?
One we did in Vienna, Austria. Local anarchists were promoting it, they had Austrian Hell’s Angels as security and the concert was in an old converted abattoir. But there was the group of Satanists who were gathered in front of Lisa, chanting and wearing monk cloaks. And Lisa got pissed off. She threw a pot of tea all over them, and pandemonium broke out. But the Hell’s Angels grabbed these Satanists and threw them all out. It was the strangest concert I’ve ever played in my life.
Dead Can Dance
- Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
- When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
- Tickets: $55 to $95
- Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.ticketmaster.com