I recently saw Lou Reed at the Moore Theatre in Seattle. Amazing theater, almost 100 years old and (except for some peeling paint, and chairs that remind me of middle school) a perfect performance space.
Lou came out about 7:50 leading his band: Mike Rathke on second guitar, the amazing Fernando Saunders on bass, synth drums, and vocals, Jane Scarpantoni on cello (!), and Anthony on backing and lead vocals. (Much has been made, at least in Lou’s web stuff, about Anthony, Lou’s countertenor discovery, and I have to admit that for much of the show I wasn’t impressed. Of course, that could have been because he was blocked by the tower speaker on our side, and I couldn’t see him.
The opening of the show: Lou played three chords: E A G. The crowd went nuts. He paused, then repeated the progression, then stopped. “You know how hard it is to keep playing the same three chords all these years? Well, the secret is it’s actually four chords…” and he played it again: E A G Bm A. Then he launched into “Sweet Jane.” He had to stop again in a second though, and said, “Could you please not take flash pictures? Now I can’t see.” A few more chords and—“Look, I’m not kidding. I tried the nice way, don’t make me try the hard way. If I can’t see, I can’t read the Teleprompter!” Fortunately there were no further interruptions.
After that a brilliant turn on “Small Town,” reimagined as a sort of driving funk tune during which Mike Rathke played a synthed up guitar that sounded like a piano, and which Lou stopped towards the end to ask, “So out of curiosity: Seattle? Small town?” Some cheers. “Big town?” More cheers. “I dunno…” (making an equivocal shrug before playing the final notes). Then “Tell It To Your Heart,” with Antony and Fernando taking vocal duties on some of the verses. I don’t remember the rest of the set list order, but he played “Dirty Blvd,” “How Do You Think It Feels?,” “Vanishing Act,” “The Day John Kennedy Died,” “Ecstasy,” “Call on Me,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and “Venus in Furs,” featuring an extended cello solo from Scarpantoni during which it sounded, particularly in some overtone passages, as though she was chasing away John Cale’s viola with a handful of rocks.