Lou Reed, Meltdown Festival,  Royal Festival Hall, 10/08/12 5

Lou Reed, Meltdown Festival, Royal Festival Hall, 10/08/12

lou reed

Lou Reed took to the stage last Friday night looking entirely frail, but it was soon clear that he had lost none of his trademark snarl or charm. ‘Is this loud enough asshole’? he barks at some random heckler during the start of the set. Opener ‘Brandenburg gate’ lulls the audience in before pummelling them over the back of the head. ‘Heroin’ peaks and ebbs and peaks again, ably backed by Reed’s 6 piece band. His guitarist and saxophonist’s playing are especially visceral, more than making up for the 70 year old singer’s lack of movement onstage. Another early classic ‘Waiting for my man’ is delivered in a way that makes you wonder if he’s reinventing the vocals or just forgetting them entirely, though it seems to matter little to the audience who greet everything with open arms. ‘Walk on the wild side’ gets a similar treatment, with the bass player stretching his elastic abilities in a solo over the beginning. Indeed Reed allows each of his players to shine tonight.

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There are moments of self indulgence though, 2 more songs from the much maligned ‘Lulu’ album batter those fans who may have more delicate tastes. No ‘Sweet Jane’ tonight for them, instead it’s almost spoken word poetry wrapped in grinding drop tuned riffs.

‘Cremation’ and ‘Sad Song’ give respite from the sturm und drang, and are perhaps some of the most beautiful and melancholic moments of the evening. A theatrical ‘Junior Dad’ closes the night before an encore of ‘White Light/ White Heat’ which sees the Royal Festival Hall swathed in light and the crowd finally on their feet. Though their devotion was never in doubt, there are few enough living legends in music, and even fewer still pushing the boundaries of their music well into their 70s.

Lou Reed leaves the cheers with a rare smile and a wave, at this stage in the game he’s earned the right to do his music any damn way he pleases, and for tonight, that is more than enough.

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1. Bradenburg Gate (from the Lou Reed / Metallica album ‘Lulu’) (2011)

2. Heroin (from the first Velvet Underground album ‘ The Velvet Underground & Nico ) (1967)

3. Waiting For My Man (from the first Velvet Underground album ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico) (1967)

4. Senselessly Cruel (from the eighth Lou Reed solo album ‘Rock & Roll Heart’) (1976)

5. The View (from the Lou Reed / Metallica album ‘Lulu’) (2011)

6. Mistress Dread (from the Lou Reed / Metallica album ‘Lulu’) (2011)

7. Street Hassle (from the ninth Lou Reed solo album ‘Street Hassle’) (1978)

8. Cremation (from the seventeenth Lou Reed album ‘Magic And Loss’) (1992)

9. Think It Over (from the eleventh Lou Reed solo album ‘Growing Up In Public’) (1980)

10. Walk On The Wild Side (from the second Lou Reed solo album ‘Transformer’) (1972)

11. Sad Song (from the third Lou Reed solo album ‘Berlin’) (1973)

12. Junior Dad (from the Lou Reed / Metallica album ‘Lulu’) (2011)


White Light/White Heat (from the second Velvet Underground album ‘White Light/White Heat’) (1968)

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