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We’re gonna have a real good time together. lou reed, second part

Y’know if you asked me about the second time Isaw Lou Reed I would have guessed around 1981. If I was wrong then I would have said later. On consulting Mr Google it seems that it was October 1979. OK, those years were good years. The serious drug years. The timeline  gets a little buckled.

1979 was a busy year. My marriage broke up. I spent the 4 months of the summer in Greece trying to get a handle on what sort of future I wanted. On returning to England I moved to London. Had a lot of good friends there. the move seemed logical & a little inevitable. I do know I went to the concert with a good friend from Birmingham who had just relocated, or would soon do so, to London as well. Sorry for the vagueness but I’d rather do that than lie.

Changes for Lou too since the 1972 gig. “Transformer” had moved him  into rock & roll centre stage. He had followed with the masterpiece that is “Berlin”  the live show on “Rock & Roll Animal was pumped up stadium rock Velvet Underground. It worked for the larger audience but it was the dirt under the fingernails, the detail, that made the Velvets so great. Not some theatrical glammed up grand guignol. “Metal Machine Music” has to be mentioned. Art or a great fuck off to the business ? I found it barely listenable .I didn’t really care because “Coney Island Baby” is such a wonderful piece of  work  that all was forgiven.

This was the tour for “The Bells” ,an album not in the 2nd division of his work. Hey it was Lou live & that was enough. 3 nights at Hammersmith Odeon. We went on the first night. I have seen the set lists for all 3 shows. Look, I may have been in a state but I would NEVER forget seeing a performance of “Coney Island Baby” or of “Kicks”. He did not do either of these on the Wednesday. The Odeon was the biggest gig in London now. It was too comfortable. A sit down place. An old cinema and known for the worst bar staff in the city.

  1. The 1978  “Take No Prisoners” LP had shown just how good Lou could be live. The twin rock gods  had been ditched. The “Prisoners band could handle the range of his career. It was these guys who played with him tonight. Moose Boles (bass), Michael Fonfara (keys) and Marty Fogel (sax) were all class acts.
  1.  Look at that set list. Jesus. There are only 2 songs from the new LP. The rest are not just great Lou Reed  songs but some of rock & rolls great songs. He wasn’t giving them the 1966  treatment & that was OK. You did not expect or want a facsimile of the records. It was cool to get 2 Velvets songs early on but “Heroin  so early in the set was a treat. The 5 songs from “Berlin”.  OH MY GOD. Just more than you could hope for.
      The friend I went with (anonymity necessary) got good drugs. Let’s see 1979 that would be amphetamine then. Plenty of joints too. We always took plenty of ready rolled with us. Never quite enough though to last out the night. We were smoking in the hall. A guy in front asked for a toke. He had a bottle of rum in his hand. I suggested a swap, he agreed. Hey, it helps the buzz along. My mate went off. He needed a piss & to roll a couple more. With hindsight he had maybe gone to shoot up as well. It was a Lou Reed show. No better music to take heroin doubt.
    He was though missing “Street Hassle” the highlight of the Prisoners album. The updated dirty boulevard New York street life stories. It was magnificent, epic and masterful. Lou still at the top of his game, not relying on the old songs to pull him through. Fantastic. After that it was fun. “I’ll  Be Your Mirror” and “Pale Blue Eyes” are not “Sister Ray” & “White Light” but welcome surprises.The audio of Mirror, same band , earlier in the year shows how great it is. Don’t ask me about the closing medley. More than one toke over the line by then. “You Keep Me Hanging On” ? I would bet money…and lose…that I had never heard Lou Reed sing that.
    It was some years  & some patchy albums before Lou was re-invented as a grand old artist & poet. What I saw that night was an artist. He took songs we knew & re-worked them for the time &  for his new musicians. He put on a show, playing songs people wanted to hear. He gave us a chunk of “Berlin” because he knew it is a great work. Christ I got to hear “Sad Songs”. That don’t need no symphony orchestra to make that song amazing. He also showed us with “Street hassle” that , for grimy low-life tales, there was still no one better. What a show.
    Don’t ask me what I did the next night or the weekend coming. I got high, that’s a fair bet. I would, though have been raving about how Lou Reed, remember him, is still a great night out.

About loosehandlebars

Experience has taught me wisdom, thank god I've got some life left I'm getting out of serfdom, my soul has stand the test. I need nothing to be a man because I was born a man and i deserve the right to live like any other man.

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