Monday, 30 May 2011

What do John Cale & Laurie Anderson have in common?

Answer: Lou Reed. Lou Reed was the reason I went to see both John Cale and Laurie Anderson perform on two different nights at the Brighton Dome in the Brighton Festival.

I didn't go just because I hoped to spot Lou Reed in the audience, I went because John Cale and Laurie Anderson are two good musicians/performers in their own right, but I wouldn't have known about them if it wasn't for Lou Reed. The former was in the same band as Lou Reed: The Velvet Underground (one of my favourite bands) and Laurie Anderson is married to Lou Reed ... Laurie is so much more than just a wife though ... While John Cale was good (even though he looked nothing like I'd expected him to look, and played no Velvet songs) Laurie Anderson was an outstanding astonishing superwoman!

It's hard to explain, but Laurie Anderson's performance wasn't just an ordinary gig. She did play the violin, yes, but the music was more of a backdrop to the fragmented stories she was telling with the aid of visual images. A part of the show was based on the death of her mother. She mixed sad and profound sayings (like "you die three times: first when your heart stops, then when you're a buried or cremated, and lastly when someone for the last time says your name") with comical pieces about her giving birth to a dog ... She also made fun of the fact that your mother's maiden name is suppressed, so suppressed in fact that it can even be used as the secret word that saves you when you've lost the password to your email account ...

I loved the fragmented bits of stories like "it's always raining in my dreams" and the repetition of "I'm thinking of you. And then I'm not thinking of you anymore."

I want to thank Lou Reed for introducing me to Laurie Anderson, even if he didn't do it personally ... Some people left half-way through the performance, and someone feel asleep. Perhaps they'd expected a Walk on the Wild Side ... Either way Laurie Anderson's imagination is wild enough for me, and is inspiring me to be more passionate, and use my feelings more in my creations.

I also want to thank my brother for convincing me to go and see John Cale. I almost cried when he played and sang his song Amsterdam. So it was worth it for that song alone. I love FEELING things.

PS. I have seen Lou Reed in concert ones, so I wasn't too sad I didn't spot him in the audience ...


  1. Hey I got to see Laurie also. Your comments on her gig are really interesting. What stood out for me was how she buried,
    yet wove her stories, around a subtle exposé of capitalist/political greed. Her story about ownership of the moon, for example - and how she tied that into the main theme of death by telling us about the Russian who wanted us all to go to the moon to collect the cells/genes of our ancestors. Very clever bit of craftsmanship, that. I also found her films mesmerizing, and liked the way she used the mediums of storytelling, film, and audio distinct from music.

  2. Nice post. Feeling is such a key thing in creating stuff - try and unhitch the "rational" mind for a bit. Sounds like a great couple of gigs...