Posts Tagged ‘lou reed’

From the Deep Archives/Performance Diary: Nico in concert, Boston, 1979

September 8, 2022

4.17.79 12:20 am

Earlier I’d been to the Paradise Theater to see Nico, which was hilarious, wonderful & absurd. She had long, dark hair, with bangs down to her eyelashes, loose flowing clothes, & a heavily-accented slow voice.  “I’m so happy that you remember me,” she said first. Sat down at the harmonium & announced she would play some new songs. The first she said was “Genghis Kahn – or is it Jenghis Khan?” (“I have come to lie with you/to die with you”) The next one was something about “Do you dare to be insane?” Between those two someone brought her a tissue & a glass of wine – she said, “excuse me, I have something in my eye,” dabbed at her eye a little bit, then whispered “thank you.” For the 3rd song, which she introduced as “Henry Hudson,” she was joined by a man with beautiful long blond hair and a guitar. When he started playing, we decided it sounded like “Both Sides Now.” (I was sitting with Liz Ireland and Bill Tupper [Boston-based rock critics].) Then she said she would do some Lou Reed songs & did “Femme Fatale” (with the guitar, I thought it sounded like a George Harrison song; Tupper suggested Melanie) and “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Then the guitarist went away. Nico thanked Lou Reed, and when someone asked, “Where’s Lou?” she said “He’s probably on his farm. He is always on his farm a lot these days.” At some point she mentioned “I have never done a concert so sober as I am tonight.”

photo by Ebet Roberts

Then she did a smattering of songs from her albums – she did a song from The End LP dedicated to Baader & Meinhof, it went something like “His sweat is my innocence/must they kill my fate/can’t I betray my hate?” which made me ponder “the right to hate.” Then she did a song in German from (she said) The Marble Index but it was actually from Desertshore – but she couldn’t finish the song. She just stopped for a moment, then said “I don’t know where the notes are.” A fan brought up a trinket to her, & she said “Is it black magic?” The woman assured her it was not. Oh, before that, just after the Lou Reed songs, she had said, “Are there any special requests?” People had yelled various of her songs. The only thing I could think of was “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.”

Anyway, after the song she didn’t finish, she said “I’m supposed to make mistakes. Andy Warhol said that.” A fan said, “Your mistakes are perfect.” She said, “I don’t think so.” Then she launched into a song I thought was called “You Will Know Me.” Maybe it’s “You Forgot to Answer.” It began, “If I could remember what to say…” but she didn’t finish that song either, forgot how it went. She seemed upset, & for a minute it was like Ronee Blakely in Nashville. Then she sang “No One Is There,” & everything went smoothly. Another couple of songs – “Frozen Borderline,” “Secret Side,” one about vestal virgins, then she introduced her  last song — & it was “The End” [long lugubrious song from the Doors’ first album]. We all groaned. It is pretty dumb. But she came back for an encore – I asked who was on the button she was wearing and she said, “oh – Sid Vicious.” And, finally asserting herself, she said, “whether you like it or not, I’m going to do another German song. That doesn’t mean I’m a fascist.” It was “Deutschland Uber Alles.” & it was over.

The harmonium is an odd instrument, very monotonous, but intriguing to watch her pumping the pedals & hearing the  repetitive wheeze. Soho News said her CBGB’s gig was eerie like a wake, and this was spooky, too, but more like watching an eccentric woman who makes old-time radio shows. Her enunciation is painfully precise, her pitch often painfully uneven. But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Performance Diary: “THE POWER OF THE HEART: a celebration of Lou Reed”

December 19, 2013

lou reed card 212.16.13 – The invitation-only tribute to Lou Reed at the Apollo Theater was a beautiful event – a classy, intimate, surprising blend of musical performances, spoken testimonials, film and audio clips, and multi-faith spiritual expression. Welcoming music came in the form of a guitar jam between Marc Ribot and Doug Wieselman. The program officially began with Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman performing the funeral prayer “El Maleh Rachamim.” Laurie Anderson opened and closed the three-hour ceremony with very personal recollections of her life with Lou. She talked movingly about his final days, his last words, his last breath, his last gesture. They had immersed themselves in Buddhist meditation, so she and her community  observed the 49-day period of practices after someone dies, according to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The memorial at the Apollo took place on Day 50, which is dedicated to the liberation of the soul of the departed. And she said they’re very clear and strict about “no tears,” weeping seen to be confusing to the soul passing through the bardo.
12-16 pre-show
Accordingly, this was an evening of much celebration and laughter, emotion and sentiment but no tears. There were lively reminiscences by Lou’s sister Meryl (aka Bunny), producer Hal Wilner, Julian Schnabel, Ingrid Sischy, the Velvet Underground’s Maureen Tucker (reading a message from John Cale), and the surgeon who performed Lou’s liver transplant, Charlie Miller, who was hilarious and touching and apparently stitched up his famous patient to the beat of “Walk on the Wild Side.” Early on, Patti Smith sang “Perfect Day” accompanied on guitar by Lenny Kaye, and she took the lead for the all-hands-on-deck finale, “Sister Ray.” Emily Haines of the band Metric sang “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” Debbie Harry did “White Light White Heat,” Jenni Muldaur sang “Jesus,” and the Persuasions (who opened for Lou’s first European tour) came out to croon a gorgeous a cappella rendition of “Turning Time Around.” John Zorn’s sax solo represented Lou at his most abrasive and improvisational. Philip Glass sat down at the piano and played while the rabbi sang and Hal Wilner translated the Kaddish. For me, the musical high point was Antony performing “Candy Says” to Marc Ribot’s simple acoustic guitar accompaniment – fitting for Lou’s song about transgender Warhol diva Candy Darling to be sung by a gender-queer performer who clearly understands its existential self-disgust from the inside (“Candy says I’ve come to hate my body/And all that it requires in this world”). It seemed curious to me that only the Persuasions sang a song written after 1973 — Lou made a lot of albums and wrote some good songs after Berlin, but I suppose it’s a recognition of how solid those early Velvet Underground songs were and still are.

12-16 white light white heat
I would guess Hal Wilner had a hand in amassing the various amazing film clips that conjured Lou’s presence, starting with an excerpt of “Waiting for the Man” (live in concert during his dyed-blond days) and including several chunks of a very funny interview in which he talked about why he lives in New York, what he hates about Long Island, what scares him about Sweden, designing his own eyeglasses, etc. I’d forgotten that Lou was in Paul Simon’s movie One Trick Pony, but we watched the whole clip, in which Lou plays a record producer imposing egregiously bad arrangements on Simon’s character’s album. Then Simon himself came out to sing “Pale Blue Eyes.” Two radically different audio clips were also highlights of the evening – Lou as a kid singing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and then the unedited original studio demo of Lou strumming guitar and singing “Heroin,” still an astonishing song. Laurie remarked that Lou wrote his lyrics very fast, sometimes in the middle of the night, and never changed them, believing in “First thought, best thought.” Which, she admitted, she found infuriating, as someone who labored and worried over every single line.

As if the images of Lou Reed — Mr. Rock and Roll Animal, Mr. Street Hassle, Mr. Metal Machine Music — wearing a kippah at the Wailing Wall and practicing Tibetan Buddhism weren’t spiritually eclectic enough, we witnessed testimonials and demonstrations of t’ai chi from his teacher Ren GuangYi, his student, and his community. (It was fascinating to see how easily the 21 form t’ai chi moves could be adapted to the tune of “Sister Ray.”)
lou reed card 1
A rich full occasion. I was delighted to share it with my friend Judy Mam.

12-16 don and judy

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