Lou Reed in Amsterdam May 24, 2003

This review is written by Goodie

The adventure really started early February this year. Lou had announced some dates in Europe, but none in England where I live. I thought he might do the same as in 2002 when he did not come to England. As I did not want to miss out again, I looked at the European dates announced, and for me, Amsterdam seemed to be the best possibility. So I looked into a way of getting tickets, but was told they would not be available until the middle of February. When the date came that I could buy tickets, I was on the phone straight away, as I thought otherwise they would sell out. Lou Reed at Le Carre, which is a wonderful venue, and has got the reputation for being sold out very quickly.

Anyway, I managed to get tickets, so I could plan my journey to Amsterdam (where I had never been before). With the availability of the internet, it was easy to get plane tickets and a place to stay. So from May until the end of May I was looking forward to the Lou show. The big day came, and my husband and me got into Amsterdam at about 11 am on May 24. We checked into the hotel and walked around Amsterdam for a while. It is a very beautiful city, with lovely canals, and friendly people. By about 3 pm I was getting rather nervous, as we did not really know where Le Carre was, and I sort of imagined that we might not find it on time. Anyway, we asked directions, and were told where it was, and found the place by about 4.30 pm. My husband (who is not a Lou Reed fan) did not want to wait in front of the place for hours on end, so we walked up the road a little bit and found a nice café where we could have a bite to eat etc. Anyway, my excitement kept mounting, and about 6 pm, the music in the café all of a sudden switched to Lou. The  two people next to us all of a sudden livened up, so I asked them if they liked Lou Reed. They said yes, and that they would be seeing Lou a bit later that day in Le Carre, so I said we would be there too. We then proceeded to have a conversation about Lou (well the two persons sitting next to us and me, while my husband stayed quiet. Anyway, at about 7 pm I was getting nervous and wanted to leave the café, and go to the venue. We got to the venue and had a couple of drinks in the bar.

Then the bell went, and it was time to go and see LOU. Le Carre is a great venue, where all the seats are more or less good seats. We were in row 14, even though I had booked the minute the booking office was opened, I guess the best seats went to people who were even quicker than me, that is, people living directly in Holland.

Anyway, to the concert. Lou came on the stage (no warm-up band) to a big applause, said “Hello”, and started playing “Sweet Jane” After that he went into “Small town”, before actually playing the song, he joked with the audience, saying “what could it be”,  and then said “I figured it out, when you’re growing up in a small town…”. He then introduced the band, Fernando Saunders, who plays bass, “some people play bass and then there’s…” Then it was Michael Rathke’s turn to be introduced, who can play the guitar so it sounds like a piano. “No tricks, no fancy stuff, no tapes backstage, real musicians”. Then Jane’s turn on the cello, and after that “Antony with the great voice”. Then, after the introductions, Lou carried on with “Small town”. At the end the question: “Do you think that Amsterdam is a small town?” The next song was “Tell it to your heart”, a wonderful version, full of emotion, and with backing vocals by Fernando and Antony. Next, “Men of good fortune”, afterwards, “How do you think it feels”. The next song was the first song from the album The Raven, “Vanishing act” A very strong performance, I was mesmerised. Next song was “Ecstasy”, and after that “The day John Kennedy died”. After that, a personal favourite of mine, I nearly died, a great fantastic version of “Street Hassle”, could not have been done better! After that, a song from the Berlin album (but also on The Raven), “The bed”. After that, there was a Fernando song, “Je reviens Cherie”. Back to Velvet Underground days next: “Venus in Furs” this version is not very close to the original, but it had some effect on me, a very dreamy version with a great performance by Jane. “Dirty Boulevard”, and then back to VU with “Sunday morning” and “All tomorrow’s parties”. Back to the album The Raven, “Call on me” and then “The Raven”. Now then, those who have not heard this version recited by Lou have not lived. A perfect rendition, far superior to the Willem Defoe rendition on the album. Lou has such a great voice and can command the whole atmosphere of  “The Raven” perfectly. Another favourite of mine next “Set the twilights reeling”. And then Lou left the stage.
So we were hoping for encores, and a lot of people (me included) went to the front of the stage. After a while, Lou returned, and introduced Antony with “Candy says” (also from VU days). Lou joked that he could never sing the song, but that Antony would be perfect for it, and yes, it was a great version of the song. “Rock minuet” next, and then “Perfect day”, which was sung by Lou and Antony as well. And the special treat for us “Heroin”.  
The whole show was absolutely perfect, and I am glad I spent all that money to go and see Lou in Amsterdam. I would not have missed it in the world.
Even my husband conceded after the show that it was good, he is now far more tolerant towards me playing Lou Reed records, and he happily came to the next Lou show with me (in London 4 days later).
The only complaint: It should have gone on forever.
It was a perfect day. Lou was in a very good mood, relaxed, happy, and so was the audience.