We’re here despite the terribleness of the conviction,” said Lou Reed at the beginning of his nearly three-hour concert at the Greek, referring to Rodney King case. “All we can do is try to make beautiful music.” And they did.
The Sire recording artist is on the second leg of a world tour to promote his album “Magic and Loss.”
A song cycle similar to 1989’s “New York,” the new album deals with the deaths of two of Reed’s contemporaries, Doc Pomus and Rita, latter a friend. Pomus was the co-author of some of the greatest hits of the late 1950s and 1960s , including “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “This Magic Moment,” both invoked during one of Reed’s songs from the record.
Subtle lighting and brilliant playing, especially from bassist Wasserman, highlighted the first half of the show. All of “Magic and Loss” was performed during the first set. Despite the gloomy topics of death and cancer, Reed didn’t seem overly maudlin; in fact, he was outright hilarious at times, giving his black comedy a desperately needed edge.
The second set included songs from “Songs for Drella,” his tribute to the late Andy Warhol; two numbers from “New York”; and the obligatory greatest-hits section, including “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Sweet Jane,” which seemed out of step with the emotionally charged first half of the show. Best of the second set was “Andy’s Dream,” a long monologue from the late artist’s inner psyche that was eerily accurate.
As a rock performer nearing 50 years of age, Reed is one of the great voices of the ’60s and ’70s whose work today isn’t merely a retread of former glories. Let’s hope he can keep it up until he’s 80, at least.