On a sparsely furnished Zellerbach Hall stage, armed with her skeletal violin, Laurie Anderson looked like the last player left after the orchestra had wandered off. But on Saturday, as she orated and played her way through her latest performance piece, “Delusion,” she exuded nothing but accomplished mastery.
Commissioned for the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, the work develops Anderson’s career-long fascination with language and persona. Since before her 1982 debut record Big Science, she’s been fusing spoken-word storytelling with singing and experimental electronics. Here, she recounts dreams and treats various broader themes, switching between her natural voice and a booming masculine vocal filter named Fenway Bergamot.
“Delusion” shares some content with her upcoming album, Homeland, but it began its life in play form. “I thought, I’m going to try to write a play,” she recalled, speaking a couple days before the performance, “because I was working with a lot of sort of jump-cut type material, and I thought, how is that going to sound as a language where two people aren’t quite connecting as a conversation?”