Monday, May 12, 2003

Lanois brings studio sound to stage

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Here's something you don't often hear emanating from the stage at the Southgate House:

"When I was last in Ireland I co-wrote a song with my friend Bono."

Bono would be U2's Bono, and the guy dropping the name would be superproducer Daniel Lanois.

Some heavy hitters have called upon Lanois to lend his new-agey rock sensibilities to their recordings, and he is known foremost for his production credits. But Lanois is also a musician in his own right, and in 2003 he has once again left the studio for the stage.

With backup by the Los Angeles trio Mother Superior, Lanois came to the Southgate Sunday night, putting forth a 90-minute show that embodied the spirit of how he works as a producer. By his own admission, the set was loosely focused and pieced together at the last minute. But the finished product came out well, and the crowd of about 200 was hungry for more at night's end.

Lanois, playing mostly guitar and a bit of pedal steel, proved to be a monster instrumentalist. His guitar solos, awash in effects-pedal treatment, spruced up the low-key, atmospheric groove he favors. It was pleasant but never rocking, certainly nothing that ever threatened to drown out his mild singing voice.

His voice was so plain that two instrumentals featuring Lanois on steel were among the most engaging tunes of the 16-song set. Lanois, a native of Canada living in New Orleans, also went over well singing "Jolie Louise" in French.

Mother Superior - Marcus Blake (bass), Jim Wilson (guitar), and Jason Mackenroth (drums) - deserves high marks for leaving space in Lanois' airy songs instead of trampling over them. After all, these guys once provided the metallic roar as Henry Rollins' rhythm section in the Rollins Band.

In a further display of Mother Superior's range, they fueled a pair of songs from Lanois' new album Shine, singing three-part harmony on "Power of One" and the a cappella "As Tears Roll By."

Lanois, who produced several U2 records, also worked in an Emmylou Harris reference. He name-checked her before launching into Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love." Harris cut the song for her 1995 Lanois-produced album Wrecking Ball.


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