What does Lisa Gerrard & Jules Maxwell sound like?
Ethereal and powerful wordless vocals against symphonic arrangements.
The review of Lisa Gerrard & Jules Maxwell – One Night in Porto
Having seen Lisa Gerrard live as part of Dead Can Dance, there is nothing else quite like it. Although sedentary, the entire experience was like going to musical church. I can imagine the audience had a similar experience when Lisa Gerrard and Jules Maxwell took their 2021 collaboration album ‘Burn‘ on tour. Born out of their love for improvisation, ‘Burn’ felt like an album that moved from a single flame flicker to an inferno across every track.
Recorded at Casa Da Música in Porto on the third night of the tour, both Jules and Lisa are in fine form. Jules provides some exquisite piano and also backing vocals at times for Lisa to command the room with her voice. As with the album, each song on this tour starts off quietly and then becomes a blaze. This allows the opening portions of songs to feel more intimate as it’s often Jules’ piano and Lisa’s voice opening each piece. Then the electronic and rhythm instruments join in and the songs move closer to their album form.
This means most songs are extended such as ‘Noyalain (Burn)’ which benefits from its more symphonic and gothic reworking. Opening track ‘Heleali (The Sea Will Rise)’ leans into its brooding side slightly more whilst ‘Deshta (Forever)’ becomes more of a duet vocally. Lisa’s voice is front and centre but Jules provides a mystical vocal airbrush that really works in this live context. James Chapman and David Kuckhermann provide additional instrumentation throughout. Although emulating the album, there are some subtle differences from the original recordings. For example, the beats from ‘Aldavyeem (A Time to Dance)’ sound far punchier with live drums than electronic ones.
The latter half of the concert sees Lisa Gerrard deviate from the recordings of tracks slightly more. ‘Orion’ and ‘Keson’ stand out as being reinterpreted slightly differently. That’s down to the more symphonic and synthetic arrangements of the instruments on ‘Orion’ and the baroque classical piano from Jules on ‘Keson’. After the climactic ‘Do So Yol’ which closes out the album tracks, Jules and Lisa close out the album with a beautiful improvisational piece titled ‘A Blessing’. The sole new track if you will, it borrows piano motifs from the track ‘Noyalain (Burn)’ but removes any electronics. Just Jules’ piano and Lisa’s voice – and the pair go fully into their expressive and dramatic playing. It’s the most dynamic and powerful performance on the recording and leaves you wanting more.
Whilst ‘One Night in Porto’ is definitely a live album for the fans, I was pleasantly surprised at how different the songs felt in their live setting. Having Jules Maxwell on piano and vocals added a virtuoso element to the music and a slightly different sound palette too. Lisa Gerrard’s performance is excellent too, using her power sparingly but effectively. A wonderful document of what sounded like a fabulous tour.
Recommended track: Noyalain (Burn)
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