Monday, November 07, 2005

Lou Reed's Good-Time Happy Smile Hour


There's no question that Lou Reed is a rock icon with enduring appeal, from the '60s allure of his leading man status in the Velvet Underground to the solo punk edge of 1972's "Transformer" to 2000's "Ecstasy," hailed as a breakthrough hit by critics and fans alike.

But as a performer, he's hit and miss, and such is the case on the DVD "Lou Reed: Live at Montreux 2000." [W]hile Reed may look like a rocker, encased in black leather pants and vest, he's as stiff as board. Hardly cracking a smile, he plows through tune after tune off "Ecstasy," yet ecstatic is definitely not how he appears.

"Paranoid Key of E" starts off the DVD with bursting chords, and Reed's guitar playing is still darkly alluring with a distorted blues panache. But his face and voice, both deathly serious, rarely waver.

Only on "Ecstasy" does Reed close his eyes and act out the song's quietly intense words, awash in imagery, by grabbing his own arms. "Future Farmers of America" also picks up some speed, with Reed preaching "kill your master with one cut of your knife" over a driving theme.

...Reed's voice, always known for its "cool" flatness, here sifts sadly into warbling disillusion. "Oh, it's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spend it with you," Reed sings, deadpanning. But you get the feeling that he wasn't.
I'm not sure how familiar the reviewer is with Lou Reed's work, but I wonder how he could be surprised that Reed would hardly crack a smile and be "deathly serious." I don't know about you, but that's how I like my Lou Reed. The grimmer the better, in fact. Of course, it might be Advanced if all the sudden he started making jokes on stage, taking requests, and dancing around. But I don't see it happening, but then, that's why it would be Advanced.

No comments: