By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
at the Greek Theater, July 5
Sometimes it's when a band's past its commercial prime, yet still a functioning creative unit, that -- with the benefit of experience and back catalog -- it produces its most liberated live performances. Depeche Mode's Exciter tour last year made the point, and now here come the Cranberries: A decade since their ubiquitous hit "Linger," the Irish quartet are delivering their post-Smiths Celtic pop with understated mastery and unfettered joy.
Bravely beginning with a trio of cuts from last fall's largely ignored Wake Up and Smell the Coffeealbum, the Cranberries' concert incarnation (augmented with second guitar and keys) clearly can buff up even insipid material. This band was always about elfin vocalist Delores O'Riordan, and it's her show from the moment she appears in fake-fur jacket and masquerade mask, traversing the stage with the oddly mechanical motions of a malfunctioning kung fu droid. But it's that transfixing voice -- by turns spring-water pure and from-the-throat raw -- that elicits gasps from an all-but-full Greek Theater. While that voice is an addictive instrument on disc, the studio has never fully captured the desperate, last-sound-on-Earth wail that rolls out across the hills tonight.
The insistent menace of '94 politico-single "Zombie" gets the venue to its feet, and a night of mutual respect is under way. The Cranberries adroitly marry the familiar and not-so, indulging in enough crowd pleasing to keep the new material palatable. Fully appreciating less-is-more, the band's instrumentalists stand back and let O'Riordan's pipes and presence take the reins, and together they're effortlessly in control: Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" crescendoes into a frantic "Salvation," before they're begged back for encores culminating in the inevitable "Linger." Though a woman of few words, O'Riordan has an affinity with the audience rooted in her singular, lost-in-the-moment bearing -- never mailing it in, never patronizing. In an increasingly one-album business, where gigs are like blind dates, tonight is a reunion of lost loves. (Paul Rogers)
SURVIVAL RESEARCH LABORATORIES at PORT Gallery, July 6
Survival Research Laboratories appeared tonight in Los Angeles for the first time (not counting the 1989 studio taping for ABC's Incredible Sunday) since their 1985 action at LACE, Extremely Cruel Practices: A Series of Events Designed To Instruct Those Interested in Policies That Correct or Punish. They and their suicidal, fratricidal robots manifest outside of the PORT Gallery, a space propitiously situated across from the Bodice 'n Knit. Smoke billows forth as people trickle in, eventually creating a crowd of more than 300 in the erstwhile business thoroughfare. The sound consists mostly of a high-pitched whine. People clamber onto all available elevated vantage points, even as flames voluminously envelop one of the machines. This is the arena of the spectacle, but it's a spectacle that needs to be seen at the outskirts -- one very big drawback. A small piñata and several photos of monsters and other beings in biological distress hang above the staging area amid the tension and the torsion.
The occasional loud boom sets off car alarms, and smoke rises to meet jetliners on their departure from LAX. Gunshots here, gunshots there. A robotic backhoe labors in tandem with a cannon to knock the photos off the lines onto which they've been affixed. Jets of flame immolate the piñata, which is filled with fireworks, and the Toys R Us mascot head is completely alight now -- great gouts of smoke belching forth as it drowns in a lake of fire. Bits of ash settle on the audience, the skull of Baby Geoffrey peels open, the Fire Department arrives, and there is much grinding and throwing of projectiles, the nature of which is not disclosed. No fewer than six different kinds of fumes and smoke can be smelled -- happy dry cleaner! Toward the end the sound becomes almost too much -- a wide perimeter of people with ears held close pulses outward to escape.
A Survival Research Laboratories action is a process of adjustment, of eyes to bright light, of ears to loud sound, and of modern humans to a culture that has every opportunity to be cold, sterile and remote. (David Cotner)