Respectable Street Café, West Palm Beach • 4.10.98
In a word, any given performance of Human Drama can be described as “beautiful.” It is the expression of music and words in a way that many bands have lost in recent years. No ridiculous yelling. No unnecessary obscenities. No flying instruments. The music comes from deep down inside of every musician involved, and this performance was no different from any of their others I had seen in the past.
The tour came as a bit of a surprise to fans since their latest album, Fourteen Thousand Three Hundred Eighty Four Days Later, was supposed to be a recording of Human Drama’s last live performance ever. Hard to guess that the band had ceased to exist over a year ago.
The opening song, “Death of an Angel,” off the band’s 1989 release Feel, drew in every observer instantly. The crowd of faithful followers and curious “newbies” swayed to each blend of sound from that point on. Set selections came from every release in the Human Drama back catalogue, including several covers: “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Old Man,” “Heaven Stood Still,” and the final song of the night, a powerful rendition of “Heroin.” The song that the band is probably best known for, “I Could Be A Killer” (also from Feel), came near the end of the set, pleasing all, including a person who had been shouting for it earlier. The song still stands as an icon of sorts for Indovina’s musical career, and provides a glimpse into a point of time years ago when the band had made its most crucial change into what they are today. Some of the other songs on the set list included “I Bleed for You,” “Tired,” “50 Miles,” and “Look Into a Stranger’s Eyes,” spanning ten years of work.
The two instruments that stood out most in the performance were the electric violin and the voice of Indovina. The two swirl about the air, intertwining and weaving a pattern of sheer beauty for all to enjoy. This combination, backed by a strong bass guitar and powerful percussion, make for a relaxing, almost self-realizing experience, during which music shows its place in the art world.
Watching Human Drama, you can’t help but feel the music simply by watching them play it. The range in Johnny Indovina’s voice is almost startling at times, bringing goosebumps during the moments he sings in the upper octaves. His lyrics are sharp and personal, and as each song flows, you get lost in the poetry of music and words. Although personal to Indovina, there is no mistaking the meaning behind these songs. The lyrics could pertain to just about anyone anywhere.
As Indovina captivates with voice, the violin breathes spine-tingling vibrations with each touch of bow to string. The notes seep through every pore of skin reaching the deepest darkest spot inside that you thought untouchable. The performance showed that it is sometimes difficult to gain insight into some artists’ songs without seeing them play live.
Some have criticized Human Drama as being too dramatic, live or recorded. While I can understand this point of view, I can’t help but wish other musicians felt the same way about their music. The band truly seems to be in tune with every note, as if it were an extension of their selves. It’s not enough to play music that sounds good. Their intentions are conveyed to the audience, and it helps gain appreciation and hold the attention of the masses. They combine with one another in a way that few musicians can these days. Anyone watching their performance could see this. It was intelligence blended with creativity and beauty.
The same thing happened at the end of this Human Drama show as did the last I saw: those initially unfamiliar with the band were compelled to buy their albums, and those already familiar with the band now set out to collect everything they have ever recorded. In no way did the show disappoint the small crowd in attendance that night. This is a band that has stood the test of time, and has proven itself to it’s faithful followers and the curious new that it may be around for some time to come.
If you missed this tour, look for them to come back to Florida sometime later this year to support an upcoming album, due out early next year.