Performance art can be an intimidating thing, bringing to mind weird piercings, mass nakedness and the kooky antics of David Blaine types. But one artist in particular has been embraced by the masses: Laurie Anderson, whose eclectic, impassioned musical compositions are made all the more compelling by her intimate stage performances of them. Today the Society for the Performing Arts presents her latest work, "Homeland," which deals largely with the perceived loss of freedoms in the U.S. as well as the Iraq war. Alternately singing, speaking and playing instruments, Anderson holds forth on young people at war, superficial consumer culture and torture against a spare set with a rock-slash-classical trio of musicians. Dark stuff, sure, but Anderson manages to extract harmony and beauty from even her most sinister topics - which is perhaps why she's risen above the art--student fray. 8 p.m. Wortham Center, 550 Prairie. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org. $22 to $62.
Fri., Oct. 10, 8 p.m., 2008