Lou Reed doesn’t give a fuck about his fans. The older he gets, the more he buys
into his I’m Important routine which he established upon himself in the early
‘80s around the time of the release of his The Blue Mask album. He had
survived his weird and entertaining ‘70s days and came out alive, cleaning
himself up off of drugs and alcohol. This is fine and all, and indeed, Lou has
made some great work on and off since then, but the fact of the matter is that
this guy just plain sucks when it comes to a live concert.
Hey, he’s done some great live stuff in the past. The A Night With Lou Reed
and its near-twin Coney Island Baby live videos are two good examples
that Lou can deliver when he wants. On record, Live in Italy is probably
the best document to hear a good live Lou show. But you can count on seeing
and/or hearing a terrible live Lou Reed show more often than not, and as a huge
fan of his, it’s sad to have simply come to the point of rolling over and
expecting completely mediocre crap whenever he dishes out some new live product.
The new DVD “Live at Montreux 2000” is no exception. Shot in 2000 at the
Montreux Jazz Festival, it’s Lou’s only show at that fest to date. The set list
is comprised of mainly tracks off his last great album, Ecstasy, as well as
selections from New York, Songs for Drella, and Set the Twilight
Reeling. It should have been a good show for all intents and purposes, but
once again Lou had to fuck everything up for everyone involved. Seriously. One
of his longtime bandmates should just grow some balls and finally tell this guy
he could be 100 times better if he only put a bit of effort into it.
But no, we can’t have that. We can only get Lou doing his usual live
sleepwalking routine where he doesn’t bother to even halfway sing his songs
anymore. Even on Ecstasy he bothered to take his time and do a nice delivery
with the tunes. But in the live setting, forget it. You watch him up there and
get the feeling that he just wants to get through his set as fast as possible,
pick up his paycheck, and leave. It’s infuriating to watch this guy completely
sabotage his songs by rushing through the lyrics, coming in with them at the
wrong places in the song, and just totally trashing whatever lyrical meter they
Take for instance the song “Tatters.” On Ecstasy, it’s actually this
beautiful little slow song that feels warm and organic. On stage, Reed decimates
it into a shitty, “I’m about to pee my pants” kind of delivery. The guy just has
no regard for his own material or his audience. But everyone will applaud, just
because it’s Lou Reed. As if we have to accept some unspoken law that Lou’s so
cool he can screw with his songs and we have to act like it’s so amazing anyway.
He also completely craps on two of New York’s best songs, “Romeo Had
Juliette” and “Dirty Blvd.” It would actually be better if Lou just got up and
lip synced to his original albums than torture everyone with his bullshit
delivery. And of course he has to destroy a track from his past as well, just to
make sure you get the point. On this show it’s “Perfect Day” and boy, does he
really not care by the time this one rolls around to close the show. Fine. It
was painful enough to sit through the whole damn thing.
It’s a shame that such a truly great artist who has written so many excellent
songs through the years just doesn’t give a damn anymore when it comes to his
live shows. Perhaps this is why he doesn’t bother to really tour the States
anymore, preferring instead to take his shit over to Europe and have everyone
bow down to it there. However, any self-respecting fan won’t find much to enjoy
on this DVD, no matter where they are.
So Lou, all I can say is in the future, please just take time with your tunes on
the stage. They really are great, and there’s no need to kill them just because
you can. Your fans want to see greatness. You could at least give them that
much. If any other huge band performed their songs live the way you do yours,
the fans would undoubtedly be outright – and rightly – pissed, and demand their
money back. We shouldn’t have to expect you to be lackluster on stage anymore.
You get paid for this stuff. At least show us some respect by even pretending
you still care, and not just bulldozing your way through your songs because you
don’t give a shit. We still do, you know.