Photos by Ebet Roberts
Capping off a daylong tribute, Lou Reed’s Love Songs brought an eclectic cast of performers to Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park to pay tribute to an iconic New York artist and musician. A feedback-laced atonal jam featuring Laurie Anderson and John Zorn opened the proceedings. Addressing the audience, Anderson announced, “Everyone who’s playing here tonight is one of Lou’s friends. This is a night of friendship.” As she launched into a stately rendition of “Sunday Morning,” she noted that, “We’re stretching the definition of ‘Love Song,’ because love is complicated.”
Brian Eno famously stated that everyone who bought a copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico went and started a band of their own. Indeed, songs from Reed’s Velvet Underground years inspired many of the evening’s finest performances. Anohni’s delicate rendition of “Femme Fatale” got the audience softly singing along on the chorus. Emily Haines’ sweet reading of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” nicely conveyed the song’s tenderness. Lucinda Williams brought her trademark southern grit to a cover of “Pale Blue Eyes.” Hearing her inimitable weathered voice perform Reed’s lyrics was one of the evenings best musical mash ups.
While Reed’s ballads were a clear focus, David Johansen’s rendition of “Oh! Sweet Nuthin” brought a touch of rock ‘n roll swagger to the set. A rousing encore performance of the anthemic “Sweet Jane” had the crowd on its feet. The audiences’ enthusiasm and willingness to spend hours outdoors in the rain showed the extent to which Reed is loved and missed. The evening’s concert was a stirring tribute.
– Jon Kleinman