Laurie Anderson and Cyndi Lauper after Yoko's gig at the Japan Society
The Japan Society gig by The NY Times (Nov 13th 2000)
know that our cells are speaking to each other," said Yoko Ono, beginning
her Thursday night performance at the Japan Society. She mentioned a scientific
study in which a skin sample scraped from the mouth of a subject responded to
images he viewed in another room. This proved, Ms. Ono said, that consciousness
reaches beyond our brains.
This was one way into one theme that unites Ms. Ono's
vast musical output: the translation of the Eastern philosophy of loving kindness
into visceral terms. Casual observers might associate her music with abrasive
avant-gardism, but she invokes compassion with her noise making. Backed by a fine
band of downtown club stalwarts, she offered a suite of songs exploring pain and
transcendence from several perspectives and resolved in a characteristic affirmation
of hope in the face of life's continuing crises.
The songs, most of which appear
on a disc included in the catalog for "Yes Yoko Ono," the Japan Society's
current retrospective of her work, fell between her improvisations of the early
1970's and the New York rock of her excellent 1995 album, "Rising."
She offered a reprise of the title track of that album as a stirring crescendo
to "The Paths," which began as a dead child's prayer and evolved through
the mutterings of a man who might have been a victimizer. These and other songs
mixed Ms. Ono's simple lyrics with her striking vocal improvisations, guttural
whoops and crackles that recall the flesh speaking beyond words.
Even when her
wailing reached its highest pitch, Ms. Ono sensitively blended with the subtle
work of her band. Chris Maxwell on guitar and Zeena Parkins on electric harp gamely
traded phrases with Ms. Ono on most songs as the rhythm section of Erik Sanko
and Philip Hernandez kept the pace between funk and blues.--"