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Lou Reed, Antony, David Byrne & other photos from the Speak Up! benefit @ St Ann’s in Brooklyn

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]

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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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