Steve Roach In Concert: Tucson Spring '97
by Stephen Hill
Steve Roach's recent sold-out solo performance before an enthusiastic Tucson audience was a spellbinding evening of contemporary ethno / electronic theater. The visual setting was simple modern hi-chroma lighting and a fog machine on an open stage but completely effective in creating an awesome atmosphere for intense sonic ritual.
A cluster of electronic and ethnic instruments center stage were mixed into the 3D sound space of a multi-channel surround sound system brilliantly operated by engineer Roger King. Loud enough to be emotionally satisfying but never harsh or tiring, this was concert sound totally unlike the norm and infinitely more involving.
The audience, ranging in age from 15 to 55, were completely attentive to program that asked for extended immersion in the deepest and most powerful currents of sound. Two hours disappeared in a hypnotic display of virtuosic live performances on the didgeridoo, synthesizers, and an array of tribal percussion instruments, all animating a thunderous recorded backing track of ambient elements created and mixed by Roach on-the-fly for the performance.
Steve Roach's live show confirms what fans of his many recordings have known for years: this is an artist who is traveling his own road, sending back reports that have the power to inspire and engage less daring travelers. I'm not one to throw around words like "shamanic" but this concert warrants language like that. In scope, intensity, maturity, and depth of focus, Roach delivers the level of live experience serious concertgoers long for but seldom find.