Lou Reed Concert Review

Written By: Sean McCallon (TheBlueMask )

City: San Francisco, CA

Date: 6/21/2003 & 6/22/2003

Venue: The Warfield

Special Notes: Broadcast Worldwide on AOL Broadband Rocks (6/21/2003) show

I have been a Lou Reed fan for a little over a year now and I never thought I would see him play live. He did tour in 2003 and I saw him four times all over California. This was my first Lou Reed show and it did not disappoint. This show made me a Lou Reed fanatic for his live performance.

I drove from a suburb of Los Angeles up north to San Francisco a day before this show and as the time approached for this concert I became very excited. My girlfriend joined me for this show and she is a fan of Lou Reed, but not to the extent I am. Waiting outside of The Warfield there were all different ages of fans, but most noticeably the older outnumbered the younger. I wore my "Ecstasy" t-shirt and my girlfriend and I waited in line patiently.

I had heard so many things about this tour from the so-called controversy of no drum kit being used and the excessive use of the cello in every song. The setlist of both concerts was:

Sweet Jane
Tell It To Your Heart
Men Of Good Fortune
How Do You Think It Feels?
Vanishing Act
The Day John Kennedy Died
Street Hassle (I & II)
The Bed
Reviens Chérie (Fernando Saunders Song)
Venus In Furs
Dirty Blvd.
Sunday Morning
All Tomorrow's Parties (with tai chi performance by Ren Guangyi)
Call On Me
The Raven (with tai chi performance by Ren Guangyi)
Set The Twilight Reeling

Encores: Candy Says (sung by Antony)
The Last Shot
Perfect Day (sung by Lou and Antony)

I recall Lou Reed’s comments about the elusive "fourth chord" of "Sweet Jane" and telling his "students" about it, which caused a laugh. I also remember that before "Sunday Morning" Lou said that it took a while for them to remember how to play the intro part in the beginning of the song. On "Small Town" Lou Reed made it clear that the piano noise coming from Mike Rathke’s guitar was really from the guitar and not from some guy backstage playing a piano and took his ever famous survey of whether San Francisco was a "small town." This was very cool as Lou is adamant about the music being played on stage being the real music that the audience hearts. On both nights Lou talked of how hearing Antony sing "Candy Says" was his favorite part of the concerts, because of Antony’s voice.
I particularly enjoyed "Vanishing Act" live because of the quiet power of the song and the excellent playing of Mike Rathke. Fernando Saunders’s song "Raviens Cherie" did not bring the concert down and added to the sheer variety and talent of the show as a whole. The song selection for this tour overall is well rounded and every song brings a dark brooding mood to the overall "a night of words and poetry" affair of this Lou Reed tour.
The inclusion of the cello made the songs feel more well-rounded and gave the songs a darker and more bittersweet sound. I was glad there was no drum kit as the words Lou said were very clear and rang as more poetry set to music than just another rock & roll concert. My girlfriend became more of a Lou Reed fan after these concerts and really liked the cello playing of Jane Scarpantoni. I too loved that and also fell in love with the voice of Antony and during "Candy Says" I nearly cried at all beautiful his voice sounded accompanying the music and the words of this already touching song.

This tour is something special and these two San Francisco shows, especially Antony’s energy filled upbeat performance of "Candy Says" on the second night reflect just how much the performers enjoy playing on this perfect tour. Many of the people from the first night were at the show the second night. The Warfield was nearly sold out and as I looked up I only saw a few empty seats.

Since the first night of the San Francisco show was recorded many fans are hoping for a DVD release of this show and perhaps a CD album release of this show. I hope so too!