Posted in music | pictures on March 19, 2008

photos by Bao Nguyen

Speak Up!

"We wanted to make some statement from New York City -- the center of the universe," said Lou Reed in a hallway press conference for Speak Up!, an anti-war benefit held last night (March 18) at intimate Brooklyn theater St. Ann's Warehouse. While the 65-year-old NYC icon isn't in any shape to be chaining himself to a recruiting station, he certainly can gather a who's who of the lefty art-rocker geekerati: David Byrne, Moby, Blonde Redhead, Scissor Sisters, Damien Rice, Norah Jones and co-organizers Laurie Anderson and Antony, who helped conceive the event in Anderson's living room. It was a night where every song felt like a protest anthem -- even when the Scissor Sisters sang "I ain't got nothing but your seed on my face/You'll put them babies to waste." That could be about sending kids to war, right? [Rolling Stone]
Speak Up!
Reed, Anderson, Antony and Moby opened the show with a broken version of "The Star Spangled Banner." Lou's feedback never quite nailed the notes and he mangled the words a little bit ("home of the free and the home of the brave"), but it all made perfect sense. On the fifth anniversary of a war that has been pushed off the headlines in favor of an election, our national anthem was given an appropriate luster of unease and trepidation. Norah Jones performed slinky versions of her "My Dear Country" and Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going To Rain Today." David Byrne, armed with a four-person choir, led an art-gospel sermon full of huge choruses. Damien Rice was on hand to add harmonies (and the shittiest tambourine playing since Tracy Partridge), but Byrne's mesmerizing presence kept his pair of originals spiraling heavenward. The perenially chilly Laurie Anderson pulled out the snarky electrofunk of her recent "Only An Expert," vivisecting corporations and Oprah and weapons of mass destruction and global warming in that arch, scientific, matter-of-fact Laurie Anderson way. [Rolling Stone]
More below.....

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Reed closed the night with his unflinching "Christmas In February," an unforgiving look at homeless Vietnam vets, which was followed by a perfunctory jam with Laurie, Moby, Antony and eventually everyone else (including Belzer). After a night of sad, unnerving and conflicted song, Reed's classic belches of hideous feedback were the only moments that truly felt like a resolution instead of just more questions. [Rolling Stone]

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Comments (15)

Great show, if a little long. It dragged at a few points (uh, like Antony's long-winded & nonsensical rambling before playing his ONE song... and this is coming from a HUGE Antony fan), but there were MANY highlights: David Byrne, Damien Rice, Scissor Sisters & Norah Jones (who I'm not typically a fan of). The speakers were a bit derivative & granola, but I liked the overall message. All in all a great evening.

Posted by Anonymous | March 19, 2008 1:05 PM

what did antony do

Posted by Anonymous | March 19, 2008 1:14 PM

You Are My Sister.

Posted by Bao | March 19, 2008 1:20 PM

That first picture of Lou Reed is classic. Bet he's thinking: "What a beyatch.."

Posted by Anonymous | March 19, 2008 1:28 PM

If these celebretards really wanted to do something to stop the war, they could use their celebrity status to draw attention to the only thing that will stop the war: refusing to pay for it. If some celebrities would join the cause of resisting the war by not paying their taxes it would do a lot more good then playing pretty music and preaching to the converted.

http://www.nwtrcc.org/

Posted by Anonymous | March 19, 2008 1:35 PM

^^^^ Tax protest - the only protest our government will notice ^^^^

Posted by drewo | March 19, 2008 2:04 PM

Gotta say the show was a bit disappointing.
Lou was fantastic - the feedback and noise captured the anger of the occasion perfectly. At 65, he was by far the youngest spirit in the room. David Byrne sang a couple of new songs (one he wrote with Brian Eno) which sounded great. And Laurie Anderson's Expert song was also very good. But the rest were mediocre. Antony didn't seem to understand that the evening was not about him, as he gave rambling, pointless and lengthy speeches which centered on his sexuality. Scissor Sisters performed discoish tunes which seemed out of place. Norah Jones and Moby were bland -as was the crowd, which seemed a bit bored. The speeches were basically preaching to the converted, except Belzer, who was funny and edgy and was the speaker's equivalent of Reed. 45 minutes of real excitement, 90 minutes of not much else.

Posted by locogatti | March 19, 2008 2:56 PM

I thought the Scissor Sisters' acoustic, "discoish" tunes were helpful, adding a bit of energy & color to the evening's rather dreary preceedings. Good point about Antony. He was frustrating & seemed to have been unraveling a lot of the night's message. I didn't think Moby & Norah Jones were bland. A bit depressing, perhaps (especially Moby's first number & the story behind it), but somewhat fitting for the occasion. I thought Norah Jones' first song was amusing. And she sounded effortlessly beautiful (again, not normally a fan). I think the only reason the crowd seemed "bored" or "bland" is because inbetween each speaker and/or act, there was typically a lull of silence as we watched the roadies set up for the next performer. They didn't do a good job in the transitions. It needed music or something-- which they only provided during a couple transitions. I think the crowd was confused, more than anything. But again, all in all, it was a great evening. You can't really beat that line-up. (And yes, I also found Beltzer surprisingly hilarious.)

Posted by Anonymous | March 19, 2008 3:23 PM

Here is the setlist I had:

Lou Reed
solo Laurie, Star Spangled Banner
[with Laurie Anderson on violin, Moby on guitar, Mike Rathke on guitar, and Antony on vocals]

Norah Jones
My Dear Country, I Think It's Going to Rain Today (R. Newman)

Bill T. Jones with Nurit Pacht
Mrs. McGrath
[Bill sang and performed a dance while Nurit played violin]

David Byrne
Ain't Got So Far to Go, One Fine Day
[with Paul Frazier on bass, Damien Rice on vocals and tambourine, and with Norah Jones along with Jake Shears and Ana Matronic from Scissors Sisters on vocals]

Laurie Anderson
Only An Expert, Maybe If I Fall
[Maybe If I Fall with Antony on vocals]

Blonde Redhead
23 (I think)

Scissors Sisters
Lights, Don't Feel Like Dancing, I Love a Man In a Uniform

Moby
Slipping Away, Honey
[with Laura Dawn on vocals, Daron Murphy on guitar and harmonica, and Laurie Anderson on violin]

Damien Rice
The Professor, Cannonball
[Cannonball was unmic'd from edge of the stage]

Antony
You Are My Sister

Lou Reed
Christmas in February, Voices of Freedom, Voices of Freedom reprise
[with Mike Rathke and Moby on guitars, Laurie Anderson on violin, and Antony on vocals; the reprise had everyone out on stage, with Damien on one mic, Lou and Richard Belzer on a second, and Norah Jones with Daron Murphy on a third]

Speakers included Jose Vasquez (Iraq Veterans Against the War), Laura Flanders from Air America, Anthony Romero and Donna Liberman from the ACLU and NYCLU, Richard Belzer, and Naomi Klein from The Nation.

Posted by Jeremy | March 19, 2008 3:55 PM

Babydaddy is so edible

Posted by Anonymous | March 19, 2008 5:13 PM

Was that Scissor Sisters a cover of the Go4 song? Cool.

Posted by drewo | March 19, 2008 5:56 PM

Did Damien Rice said anything?

Posted by me | March 19, 2008 7:43 PM

I dont think it was "23". I didnt recognize the song though. This is sort of laughable.

Anyway thanks for the set list, are you the guy who got the list from the sound-board guy?

Posted by Anonymous | March 20, 2008 9:05 AM

thanks for sharing

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