Trying To Get To You

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Guest Post: Berlin Review

Thanks to our friend Steve Gottlieb (no, not the guy that runs TVT) we have a great review of Saturday's Lou Reed show.

OK, back at my computer... Here's my Lou Reed rambling review.

They definitely tried to make it an "art" event (Julian Schnabel produced it and gave a short introduction. Does anybody know why Julian Schnabel is famous? I know he recently made some movies but I don't know shit about him beyond that. I added the Wikipedia link - Ed.) Before the show started there was a huge screen across the front of the stage that showed crashing waves while an audio loop of guitar feedback kept playing. Cool effect.

Curtain parts and they went into Berlin. Sounded great. No bullshit between songs, no introductions, just the album. The arrangements were pretty true to the original album but a bit meatier; more guitar, more bite, more power. It's actually a really good album, I'm surprised it was viewed as such a disaster upon release. Oh well. They had a a horn section, a string section and a children's choir. It was especially fun to watch the kids in the choir bop along to these songs about doing drugs and committing suicide.

The set design was fucking abysmal. There was this Parisian style (?) wallpaper on the back wall on which they showed huge short films that showed the basic bits of the album's relationship. The films were directed by Julian Schnabel's daughter and they were pure arty bullshit. It was cool that the films were so big they projected on the band members as well, so it was kind of a nod to the old Exploding Plastic Inevitable/Warhol Velvet Underground shows.

There was an askew couch that dangled from the ceiling. It had a huge white striped painted on it. For the first few songs I thought it was meant to be a piece of the Berlin wall. It was a couch. Why? Who knows.

And worst of all, Bob Ezrin was on stage for like the entire show, facing and conducting the drummer. He was wearing a long coat that had Berlin written on the back. Neither the drummer nor anybody seemed to need his conduction. In fact, all the important complex changes were done by the keyboard player who would stand and conduct those parts. I assume Ezrin was on-stage as an ego-stroke to him or to provide one more visual element.

The encore was three songs: "Sweet Jane," "Candy Says" (a duet between Antony and Reed) and this more recent song "Rock Minuet". It was during "Sweet Jane" that you realized how great the Berlin performance was. We went from this passionate, cathartic song cycle filled with passionate solos and big smiles on everyone's faces (except Lou, who I think is incapable of moving his face). "Sweet Jane" was almost plodding. Everybody looked fucking bored. Like, "Here we go, playing essentially three chords for the millionth time."

Antony's version of "Candy Says" is fucking incredible. If you don't have Lou's Animal Serenade live album you should get it just for that. He also, coincidentally or not, does three Berlin songs on that album. The versions in Brooklyn were better than what they did on that tour.

"Rock Minuet" was something I never heard, but it fit the vibe. Drugs, sex, violence. Awesome.

So, there ya go. They had film cameras all over the place so I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes a concert film with a small art-house theatrical release.

Oh, and we also found this bar that had a great line-up of speciality beers at dirt cheap prices in DUMBO. Good stuff.

And, it's impossible to get a slice of pizza in DUMBO after midnight.



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