While Madonna graces the Holy Land this month for the Eurovision Song Contest, Berlin is also blessed by several musical divinities on tour.
“Music can be such a revelation,” a wise woman once sang. I think it was the mother of Jesus. Have you ever read the Book of Revelation? So violent. We shouldn’t let our children be reading that. Anyway, if you’re hoping to revel in the presence of veteran musicians, you can do so as Dead Can Dance are hitting Berlin with two concerts. The meditation-rock duo are coasting on the autumn release of their ninth album Dionysus, titled after the Greek God of Wein. Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard made their debut on the 4AD label in 1984, but their timeless soundscapes suggest they’ve been around since the actual AD 4. Although Dead Can Dance split up before the turn of the century, they’ve had a second coming in recent years. But afterlife doesn’t last forever, so don’t sleep on this one.
Less rock, more talk: this month, Nick Cave (photo) is embarking on a speaking tour through Europe to open up about his songs and personal life, taking questions and song requests from the audience. The idea was already a hit in his native Australia, and the Berlin stop is likely to be something extra, given that the murder balladeer spent most of the 1980s here. Reviews of that run in January indicate that the Bad Seeds’ bandleader is slightly out of his comfort zone as public speaker – which only adds to the charm. There was, however, one cringe-worthy moment, according to The Guardian, when the goth-rock god said he didn’t think the #metoo movement is particularly relevant for the music industry. Maybe a chat with our idols is a good way to stop idolizing them.
If you’re going to be clueless, better to be kawaii about it: after Shonen Knife opened for Nirvana on their 1992 UK tour – which helped give the Japanese punk band its breakthrough – singer Naoko Yamano endearingly admitted to Rolling Stone that she had never heard of the grunge icons before Kurt Cobain made the invitation. Yamano is the only remaining member from the original lineup, having kept the project alive since 1981 across 20-plus albums, with a new one on the way: Sweet Candy Power drops in June, indicating the project is less bubblegum and more Everlasting Gobstopper.
Jawbreaker, like Shonen Knife, got signed to a major label after touring with Nirvana, but this move largely alienated fans of the emo originators, increasing tensions within the band and culminating in a fistfight (no broken jaws) between two members. The NYHC trio called it quits in 1996, while emo went on to have a successful career as a haircut. Jawbreaker reconciled and reunited a couple of years ago, and this month play their first show in Germany since 1992.
No stranger to Berlin is dub creator Lee “Scratch” Perry, who lives in Switzerland and gets around more than your average 83-year-old wizard. Over his career, he’s worked with everyone from Bob Marley to The Clash to the Beastie Boys – and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of his solo material. Following last year’s sold-out show with his cohort Mad Professor, these prolific producers return for a set based on newly excavated material from joint sessions in the 1980s. Expect floor-shaking bass, fractals of effects and clouds of ganja when these living legends take over the sound system. Gods walk among us. Scratch the pedestals – we’re all pedestrians.
Jawbreaker May 4, 20:00 Astra Kulturhaus, Friedrichshain | Conversations with Nick Cave May 15, 20:00 Admiralspalast, Mitte | Shonen Knife May 16, 20:00 Bi Nuu, Kreuzberg | Dead Can Dance May 16 +17, 20:00 Tempodrom, Kreuzberg | Lee “Scratch” Perry & Mad Professor May 28, 19:00 Yaam, Friedrichshain