How Do You Think It Feels?

On Thursday Night I went to go see the world premiere of Lou Reed’s Berlin at St. Ann’s Warehouse. I’m still in shock. (preview in the NY TIMES here and a review from the times is here.)

Let’s be perfectly clear, I have been listening to Lou since I was twelve years old. I named my now-defunct personal blog after one of his songs. Berlin is an album I have turned to time and again to articulate a darkness I felt deeply but could not fully describe or capture or conquer. Anybody who’s ever been betrayed in love or loved the wrong person too well, or been lost or broken or just plain sad, can relate to this record. And Culturebot has spent a lot of time in the dark places. (You wouldn’t know it from my hilarious personal demeanor, now, would you? Insert sarcasm here)

ANYWAY – I had some trepidation that the show would be a disappointment. But it wasn’t. It was, very simply, one of the greatest performances in the history of live music. Period. Lou rocks. He rocks hard and he tells it like it is. He is a great poet and storyteller, a bleak visionary. Julian Schnabel’s set design, Lola Schnabel’s films, the musical arrangement – Antony on back-up vocals and singing “Candy Says” during the encore – all made the evening absolutely transcendent. It was the apotheosis of everything New York once was but isn’t anymore. And yet, of course, is.

I even got to go the after-party. no pictures, sorry. I tried to get three different notable people to introduce me to Lou but to no avail. He was standing there with Laurie Anderson and some other folks, I went to shake his hand just to thank him and he totally looked through me and away. Which, in its own way, is more perfect than if he had actually greeted me. Because Lou remains inscrutable. I actually have a policy of never meeting my heroes, they always let you down. I’d rather have them be pure in my mind. But sometimes, still, you want the proximity, you want to express how much somebody’s work means to you. Oh well. Maybe some other time, Lou. Besides I know where you live motherfucker. Just kidding.

Kudos to Susan Feldman at St. Ann’s for making this happen. And for, either intentionally or by accident, placing Lou’s work in juxtaposition to Woyzeck. The thematic similarities are striking, the tone, the angst, the intensity. It is an intersting study, a compare/contrast kind of thing that I will leave to the scholars.

I don’t think you can see Berlin anymore, i think the remaining performances are sold out. But if it ever, ever comes back again, you better run, run, run to go see it.

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