David Lynch Revisited at the Barbican, London


It takes the contrast of a sunny morning to reflect on how delightfully bizarre last night’s dream was. What was spine-tingling then, is not so now – merely, a thrilling, removed feeling.

Running into the late evening, last night’s In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited at the Barbican, London, tormented the audience with a brilliant homage to the songs and music from the great auteur’s past works.

From the soft twangs, stirring up sweet 1950s nostalgia, to total severity delivered in jazz and shrieks, sound paints David Lynch’s scenes as vividly as all the other strange (and beautiful) components found in his films. In Dreams, with its own reinterpretations, remained true to Lynchian.

Led by musical director, David Coulter, the assembled musicians included Conor O’Brien (Villagers), Mick Harvey, Jehnny Beth (Savages), Cibo Matto, Sophia Brous, Stealing Sheep and Stuart Staples (Tindersticks). They performed landmark instrumental tracks from Lynch’s oeuvre: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Lost Highway and then some.

David Lynch. Photograph: Adam Bordow


On paper, it was a concert. But in the plush seat, assailed by flashes of lights, saddened by the saw’s wail and being driven to near-madness with love for Jehnny Beth – it was a fantasy.

Perhaps, the darkest area of the evening was the haunting lonely harp to the tune of Laura Palmer’s Theme. When Pauline Haas struck those recognised chords, there was a yearning for watching Twin Peaks all over again. Lament surged for the poor Laura Palmer when, against a velvety red curtain, flashes of Bob, her monster – our monster – surfaced. The visual was an unexpected turn for a night of music and scratchy, eerie sounds.

There was comfort too. A trio, Stealing Sheep, sweetened In Dreams with their young, naïve presence. But, because this is Lynchian, their innocent croons to Just You, brought a similar disturbing tinge as when Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) and Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle) chorused to James Hurely (James Marshall) and his guitar.

Conor O’Brien of Villagers. Photograph: by Rich Gilligan

There were other perfect numbers throughout. Jehnny Beth, of Savages, mirrored a young Isabella Rossellini. Her hair, severely parted to the side, and slicked back. Her shoulders, awkwardly but perfectly, took turns in displaying their blades. Clothed all in black, she could have been a Helmut Newton photograph, dancing and singing meatier versions of Into the Night and Up in Flames. Her take on Song to the Siren, in Lynch’s Lost Highway, was exquisite in the blue stage light.

Stuart Staples with Tindersticks. Photograph: Christophe Agou

Cibo Matto, a New York band comprised of two Japanese ex-pats, took hold of both soft Julee Cruise’s The World Spins and Lou Reed’s This Magic Moment and turned it upside down with synths. Conor O’Brien was a man and his guitar, delivering Mysteries of Love as an Irish folk song. Stuart Staples drove David Bowie’s I’m Deranged into hysteria as flashing beams collided with the audience. Then Sophia Brous, baring a voice that echoed to the heavens, complemented Mick Harvey’s heavy-handed stance for the arousing finale, Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games.

by Erika Soliven

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