London SW7 Royal Albert Hall

Anyone looking for a glamorous fuck-up will have to listen hard...

There’s a famous bootleg version of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’, where for 30 minutes an incoherent, drunk and angry [a]Lou Reed[/a] vents his spleen. That [a]Lou Reed[/a] doesn’t show up today.

The one here before us, with an initially stern demeanour and professorial air, which gives way gradually to bemusement, is a survivor. Domestically content, tethered to his muse, and willing to howl away the years through his trusty digitally amplified guitar. He has a lot in common with the Woody Allen of [I]Manhattan[/I], in that both love that city of steel skyscrapers and glass, but where the latter sees nubile women and endless possibilities, the former English student – who introduced the concept of extreme decadence into rock’n’roll – only sees the streets, the debris, the strength in those whom life dealt a bad hand.

In 2000, Lou is mostly interested in his new album, recent accomplishments, and – bar the standard ‘Sweet Jane’, a bruising ‘Dirty Boulevard’ [I](“Bring me your poor, dirty, huddled masses and I’ll piss on them/That’s what the Statue Of Liberty says”)[/I], and the singalonga ‘Perfect Day’ finale – he doesn’t stray.

Anyone looking for a glamorous fuck-up will have to listen hard. With no hello, no acknowledgement, and no nothing, the exceedingly accomplished four-piece kick into a rock’n’roll workshop version of ‘Paranoia Key Of E’. It’s only when we descend into ‘Rock Minuet’ that strange, horrid things start to happen. A deadpan Lou tells us of a protagonist who got so excited when he saw a man whose eyes had been sewn shut in a gay bar, he came on his thighs.

Whatever, mostly Lou is content to just cast a distancing eye on proceedings. As he gets older, the past recedes. Uncomfortable experiences have to be kept at arm’s length.

These days, the upright and comfortable Reed doesn’t want to be destabilised.