Review by Björn Waller
So, an amazing concert. Small, intimate arena, sitting audience, stripped-down format - guitar, bass, cello, back-up singer - and Lou in GREAT spirits. His occasional sourpuss attitude is nowhere to be found - not that he's acting silly, but it seems that Lou Reed is really in a happy place in his life. He mixes old favourites - though far from always the most obvious ones - with songs from the last few albums, all with the same focus and edge. His band is versatile - two of them have been playing with him since the 80s, so they know their boss. And the lack of a drummer (for the most part, see below) hardly makes it a wussy show; "The Raven", "Street Hassle", "The Bed", "Venus In Furs"... intense as hell.
Not a perfect start – he misses some lyrics and sounds a bit tired on the first verse, but it takes off after Fernando gets a solo.
Smalltown (Mike on synth guitar)
Excellent version. Lou very animated, gesturing and vocalizing a lot, and raising a few laughs with his comment: “That’s Mike Rathke on the piano. Well I guess it’s a piano but it’s actually a guitar that plays like a piano... it’s very confusing, I can’t look at him! But don’t stop!”
Tell It To Your Heart
Takes the audience by surprise, I don’t think many people knew this. Nice singing by Lou. Fernando sings the “up on the roof” verse. Beautiful.
Men Of Good Fortune (Mike on synth)
Works very well in a stripped down setting, Lou syncopating lyrics against the riff in the chorus.
How Do You Think It Feels? (Mike on synth, Fernando on drums)
Bluesy. Begins with Lou playing an extended solo – very nice. On the 2nd verse he gets so caught up in his guitar playing that he completely forgets the lyrics and sings the “wolf and foxy” bit twice, but it’s fun. Fernando’s drumming is awful, though. Long outro with Lou, Fernando and Antony trading vocals.
Vanishing Act (Mike on synth, Fernando on bowed upright bass)
Lou bathed in black light so we just see him as a shadow. Pin-drop quiet, beautiful. The strings swell and fill the whole room.
Ecstasy (Fernando on bowed upright)
A highpoint. VERY intense. Lou plays guitar on it, making it more gritty than it was in 2000, especially when he takes an ear-splitting solo.
The Day John Kennedy Died
No mistaking the venom in Lou’s voice here; “a CRIMINAL on the TAKE”. Great performance, well-suited to this setting.
Street Hassle (Fernando on bowed upright)
INCREDIBLE. Heavy as a truckload of strung-out bricks. Almost Velvetishly pounding.
The Bed (Fernando on guitar)
The same arrangement as on The Raven. Jane gets in some screeching cello lines. Beautiful.
One song by Fernando Saunders
Fernando, love your bass playing, but this sounds like a 1983 Jermaine Jackson b-side. Oh well, perfect for changing minidiscs.
Venus In Furs
Starts with just Lou on the guitar. Very popular with the audience, and for good reason. Slow, menacing, well sung. Incredible pseudo-Cale solo by Jane, that gets a huge applause. Sweeet.
Dirty Blvd. (Fernando on drums)
Pretty good version, marred again by Fernando’s inept drumming. Noted that the TV whores are nowadays calling the cops out to get fucked – Lou found this important enough to sing 4 times.
Sunday Morning (Mike on synth)
Pretty version, rather close to the original, only more laid back. Lou sings REALLY well. Nice solo by Jane.
All Tomorrow's Parties (Mike on synth, Fernando on drums)
Funky, would have been great if not for Fernando’s drumming. Really, he’s AWFUL. Which is a great pity since Lou and the rest of the band rip the song up. To everyon’es confused amusement, a Tai Chi monk comes out to dance during the song.
Call On Me
Better even than the studio version – again, great singing by Lou. Antony sings Laurie’s bit. Ends with Lou, Fernando and Antony singing 3-part harmony acappella. Beautiful.
The Raven (Lou, Mike and Fernando on various sound effects apart from their
Lou introduces it as a poem by Poe – “I rewrote it and he wasn’t here to defend himself”. MUCH better than the studio version. Long instrumental intro with dancing monk and lots of noise that literally makes the room shake. As in people are crouching in their seats waiting for the ceiling to come down on them. Lou really gets inside the lyrics (which are a bit different from the studio version). Interesting slip-up by Lou: “I love he who... I love SHE who hates me more!”
Set The Twilight Reeling
Antony sings the “5AM” verse and Fernando gets a bass solo. Not bad, but I’ve heard better versions – I miss Tony here. Mike’s guitar break is HUGE though.
Candy Says (Antony on vocals)
Nice, but a bit too camp. “Candy Says” shouldn’t be played for giggles, IMO.
Rock Minuet (Fernando on bowed upright)
Interesting choice for an encore, no? Lou nails it. The Death Pedal gets to do its stuff.
Extremely popular with the crowd, of course. Good version too, Antony gets to sing a few lines. More monkdancing.
Then Lou introduces the band and thanks us and heads off, but the crowd won’t hear of it and after a standing ovation Fernand comes back on and starts detuning the bass – so we know what’s coming next.
Walk On The Wild Side
Seemed to please not only the audience, but Lou as well. He has a big grin throughout and sings it like he means it, not just like a crowdpleaser.
Some moments that are etched into my mind:
So, apart from Fernando’s drumming, a Perfect Night.