Lou Reed’s ‘Songs for Drella’ (with John Cale) and ‘Berlin’ concert films streaming free via St. Ann’s Warehouse
While Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse can't have shows during the pandemic, they hosted some outdoor, socially distanced performances from their roof, and now they are offering streams of two legendary Lou Reed shows performed at their venues that were then turned into concert films.
The first is Lou Reed and John Cale's performance of Songs for Drella: A Fiction, the former Velvet Underground members' song-cycle about Andy Warhol. It was co-commissioned with BAM and shot by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Edward Lachman (Carol, Velvet Goldmine) in January 1989 at the original Church of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights, and originally shown on Britain's Channel 4. Later that year, the show was part of BAM's Next Wave Festival; the Songs for Drella album was released in 1990 (and just got a 30th anniversary reissue for Record Store Day). That is streaming on demand now through Thursday (11/19). Here's a little more about it:
In 1989, John Cale and Lou Reed reunited for the first time in years to pay tribute to Andy Warhol, their longtime friend, and collaborator. The result was Songs for Drella, a song cycle recounting the pop artist’s life. The title borrows John and Lou’s affectionate nickname for Warhol — a combination of Dracula and Cinderella. The performance contains all the passion that had brought the two together and driven them apart in their notorious split from the Velvet Underground nearly two decades before. The arresting cinematic document of this landmark musical event was shot by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman (Carol, Velvet Goldmine). It captures the Cale/Reed connection — and their connection to Warhol — at close range. Songs for Drella now returns at a time when it can once again offer healing and inventiveness in the face of grief.
You can watch Songs for Drella here.
Starting Friday (11/20) and running through 11/29 it's Lou Reed's Berlin, which was directed by Julian Schnabel and shot during his December 2006 run of shows at St. Ann's Warehouse where he performed his classic 1973 album Berlin in full with help from ANHONI, Sharon Jones and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. More details:
Now widely recognized as a masterwork, Lou Reed’s 1973 gorgeously dark concept album about drifting, tormented addicts in love on the outskirts of a divided city was panned by critics and never performed live. That is, until St. Ann’s Warehouse and the Sydney Festival joined forces in 2006 to fulfill Reed’s dream — to produce a fully staged version of the album live. Reed’s friends and passionate Berlin devotees — producer Hal Willner and artist Julian Schnabel — signed on from the first major decision — that Lou would sing the leading role. The world premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse — five sold-out performances — was an ecstatic, late-career triumph for Reed, captured on film by the great rock cinematographer Ellen Kuras (Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
You'll be able to stream Lou Reed's Berlin Live at St. Ann's Warehouse starting 11/20 here.
St. Ann's members can also watch a conversation between filmmakers Edward Lachman (director, Songs for Drella) and Ellen Kuras (cinematographer, Lou Reed’s Berlin) on "making films about making music."
Watch clips from both films below.