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October 29, 1999 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-10-29

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Defining words
Steven Pinker discusses what makes language. Pinker will be
at Shaman Drum to talk about his new book "Words and Rules:
The Ingredients of Language." 8 p.m

UZte idcigan lkig
LRT

Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
Read Daily Arts for a review of Saturday's performance by
the Buena Vista Social Club.
Friday
October 29, 1999

5

.Harper summits Hill with lively, energetic show

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Eitor
"This is close. We are close," mused
the beautiful, soft-spoken frontman dur-
ing the first pause between songs in
Wednesday night's show, "I'm digging
it"As for the audience - well, they dug
it too.
Beforea packed, energetic crowd at
'ill Auditorium, the genuine Ben
Harper gave a definitive performance

Ben Harper and the
Innocent Criminals
Hill Auditorium
Oct. 27, 1999

that spoke loud
and clear to those
listening -
Harper is one hell
of a musician.
Spanning over two
hours and two
encores, Harper
played through
countless instru-
ment changes and
styles, ranging
from bluegrass,
funk, blues and
rock to Motown
and even grunge.

box and John Lennon looks in tow, Mr.
Harper and the Innocent Criminals, com-
prising of drummer Dean Butterworth,
percussionist David Leach and bassist
Juan Nelson, set down to play.
And play they did. After a exciting
opening of the smooth, fresh groove of
crowd favorite "Gold To Me," Harper
melded right into the loud bass and funk
guitar of another classic "Fight For Your
Mind." Midway through, Nelson began
to shake and bop to the beat, which lead
poetically into a five-minute fusion of
various chromatic bass patterns. Nelson
owned this song and the rhythms of the
crowd as he sauntered from stage right to
left, playing directly to the cheering stu-
dents in the front rows.
After briefly acknowledging the close-
ness of the crowd, the band eased into the
first song of the show from their latest
release, "Burn To Shine," with
"Forgiven." Harper's quiet acoustic gave
way to an explosion of the loud, abrasive
guitar driven chorus. In slowing the
opening of the show, Harper took a
moment to speak with the audience -
yet it was simply to give a generous,
poignant recognition of all the people
that made the show possible, from the
stage manager to the bus driver to the
Innocent Criminals, before getting back
to business.

Harper's genuine nature as a musician
comes not just in his evident urgencv to
play music rather than talk and bull shi t
about nonsense but in his intense, pained
screams in such songs as "Please Bleed"
or his slick twang of double guitar in the
rock swing of "Burn To Shine."
While much of the show focused on
songs of their latest album, Harper and
the Innocent Criminals couldn't let such
favorites as "Burn One Down" and
"Oppression" go unheard. With the light
whimsical acoustic guitar of "Down,"
cheers of recognition rang out at Leach's
hip, rolling drum beats. The excited,
grooving crowd eventually joined
Harper in singing the fun chorus.
Midway through the show, the rhyth-
mic poetry of "Oppression" drew an
even larger response from the audience
as Leach and Nelson stepped forward on
stage, Leach carrying the trademark
hand drum and Nelson forging an under-
current of rhythm with a pair of shakers.
As Harper bellowed a loud scream, the
band edged into a surprising rendition of
Bob Marley's "Stand Up For Your
Right." Rising faster and faster, Leach
led the song into a climax of moving
drum rhythms and patterns.
While moments like this exposed the
wonderful live energy of the band, at
times the show became disjointed -

certain energetic songs lacked the energy
they should have, evident as the crowd
dropped to their chairs during the overly
loud guitars of "The Woman In You" or
the more annoying "Less." But Harper
didn't sway in the least, finishing the
show with the upbeat folk ditty, "Steal
My Kisses" In his simple black T-shirt,
he left the chair for the first time of the
show and danced with Leach, Nelson
and human beatbox Nick Rich.
Leaving the stage for only three min-
utes, Harper returned to play a beautiful
solo acoustic set for an encore.
Alongside the passionate "Roses From
My Friends" came a version of Pearl
Jam's "Indifference" that was very-
close-but-not-quite Eddie Vedder.
However, the encore turned tired -and
began to wane as it ran long once the
fifth song strummed around.
Yet again, Harper and the Innocent
Criminals stepped on stage for one final
surprise - an exciting, hip rendition
straight "for Michigan and Detroit and
Motown." The excited crowd danced and
sang as Harper did his best Marvin Gaye
with "Sexual Healing." Following up
with the show closer, a cover of the Jimi
Hendrix tune "Manic Depression,"
Harper slapped the hands of his fans and
paused to acknowledge his art with a
slap of his guitar before he left the stage.

Treating the audience with a musical
whirl of lap guitar slides and the gentle
care and intensity of his vocals, Harper
sat atop his holy chair center stage to per-
*orm as an artist, not a rock star, not an
entertainer, but a full fledged musician

DANA LI'NANL/Uaiy
The vocal stylings of Ben Harper soar onstage at Hill Auditorium.
- and one who's backed by an out- Entering the darkened stage about 20
standing group of musicians otherwise minutes after middle-of-the-road opener
known as the Innocent Criminals. Joseph Arthur left with his guitar, beat-

Enjoyable After Life'
ponders memories

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
"After Life," a Japanese film whose
subtitles should not deter audiences,
offers an Eastern version of Dante's
Purgatorio in the form of a post-death
bureacracy of sorts. We live; we die;
and then we go to this middle place, this
state of limbo, where we must select a
single memory to carry forth with we to

the after-after life.
After Life
At Michigan
Theater
enough to keep our

We have three days
to decide. No
more than one
memory, for that
is all we will
know for eternity.
It's a fascinat-
ing concept, this
idea that all our
past is forgotten
save one, perfect
recollection that
will assign life
some meanning
after it has con-
cluded. But con-
cept alone is not
r attention. Luckily,

current crop of 22 people (a new group
of travellers arrives each week) describe
in rich detail their one memory. That is,
if they can choose; some cannot, or
some need to be reminded that there
does exist that one incident which can
validate an entire lifetime. These inter-
views are funny and touching, told with
such feeling and sweet wistfulness that
had the whole film been nothing but
interviews with hundreds of people
about their best memory, it still would
have been successful.
The staff of this intermediate depot
between life and death have their own
stories to tell, as well. It doesn't take a
genius to figure out why they're there,
why they have not moved on to single
memory oblivion and by the film's end
one of their rank has achieved peace.
Their job is a challenge, though. They
must help the undecided find their one
memory, and then they must recreate it
on film. It is not always easy.
Sometimes the memory depends on a
mere smell or a slight taste. Sometimes
the details of the memory do not match
what is available in reality. Although
everyone here is dead, they are subject
to the rules - and the emotions - of
life.
Most of the dead choose a childhood

Courtesy of Artistic License Films
"After Life" and its cast have enjoyed worthy success in the film festival circuits.

Courtesy of Birgit
ad in beautiful, crafted costumes, Sakai Juku dancers work in the art of Butoh.
ukupoers c ak
conventionsindance.V..

memory, which speaks to the innocence
that we all seek to reclaim after the hard
truths we face later in life. A teenager
first chooses Splash Mountain at
Disneyland as her memory; when her
interviewer mentions that several dozen
people have chosen that exact memory
during her tenure, the girl reconsiders.
Being forced to choose just one really
makes us think about the things that are
important that happen to us. I sat in
"After Life" and ran over my own short
life as these people did simultaneously
before me. It's an impossible task..
Could I choose a day, a week, a feeling?

The rules aren't specific. There aren't
ten commandments of memory.
The technical achievements of "After
Life,' aside from the documentary-like
interludes, are numerous. Shot with a
very mobile camera and processed with
lots of grain, the movie seems almost a
guerilla musing on life after death. It's
not so much that it was made on the
cheap as made on the realistic.
"After Life" moves along at a leisure-
ly pace through its subject matter, and
although certain portions sag, the over-
all effect is one of profound introspec-
tion on our lives - and deaths.

'"After Life" is a cinematic gem that has
a lot more to offer.
A large segment of the film is shot in
documentary interview style, as the

By Adlin Roshi
Daily Arts Writer
* The Sankai Juku troupe's perfor-
mance at the Power Center this past
Wednesday was a performing arts
experience that went beyond conven-
tions.
Sankai Juku's artistic director, Usio
Amagatsu, and his dancers showcased
the expressive art form called Butoh.
Butoh is a neo-Japanese art form that
came about from Japan's post-war
eneration in the '60s as a result of
at generation's search to define itself
as Japanese in the midst of the flood of

Sankai
Juku
Power Center
Oct. 27, 1998

western influ-
ence and culture
that was stream-
ing into the counp-
try.
Elements of
other, more
familiar,
Japanese per-
forming art
forms, such as
Kabuki, were
obvious through
the show. But
Butoh, unlike the
colorful Kabuki

est finger vibration with the moody
musical score.
The second segment, "Seed - Like
A Ripple," was possibly the only piece
that had a cheerful feel to it. The circle
on the middle of the stage was lit by
filtered lights to make it appear like a
water surface. Only three of the
dancers performed this piece and they
did so wearing what appeared to be
white dresses. The sways and moves
performed at times made them look
almost like sea weed following the
flow of water in the ocean. The rest of
the pieces were closer in feel to "From
Hiyomeki," since they shared a similar
somber atmosphere.
Speaking of atmosphere, the sound-
track score to the performance was a
sonic tapestry of dark moods that per-
fectly complemented the morose
pieces (with the exception of the
cheerful sounding score to "Seed -
Like A Ripple"). Each song was enjoy-
able on its own and was very adven-
turous in its progression and changes.
The undoubted stars of the show
were, of course, the dancers them-
selves. They genuinely haunting from
mere appearance. They did not speak
at all and the only emotions they
expressed throughout their routine
were that of longing, desperation,
acquiescence and, at times, mild bitter-
ness. This of course lent well to the
overall mood conveyed.
After the final piece for the night.
"Toward Hiyomeki," the Sankai Juku
dancers had completely won the hearts
of its Ann Arbor crowd. The dancers
were rewarded with a standing ova-
tion. This would have been the cus-
tomary time when performers would

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performances, is a minimal art form in
appearance and movements. The
Sankai Juku troupe based all its pieces
around a large circle on the middle of
Ohe stage that fit perfectly inside a cir-
cular rail that was elevated and manip-
ulated depending on the segments per-
formed. The five clean shaven male
dancers were also clad in very simple
robe-like outfits, painted chalk white
and appeared eerily mannequin-like.
The theme of Wednesday night's

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