Dublin Olympia

The old rocker done well...

Rock and roll is a vicious circle. You get out, die or clean your act up. Just ask [a]Lou Reed[/a]. Like much of his audience tonight, the only vice Lou still harbours is a pair of leather trousers. But we’ll let him away with it, because as a muscular 58-year-old, he wears them quite well. Anyway, Lou‘s demeanour is that of super-fit, super-straight, super-focused, which probably explains why he’s so grumpy.

“HEELLLOOOO DUBBBLINNNNN. GREAT TO BE HERE!”, [a]Lou Reed[/a] doesn’t say. He doesn’t say anything. Nothing about Guinness. Or the craic. Or U2. Not even a hello. But then, he is [a]Lou Reed[/a], the most cantankerous old codger in rock, a reputation definitely worth maintaining. Last night, someone from the audience shouted for ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. Lou told him he was an asshole. No dares say anything tonight.

Naturally, tonight’s set is centred about the songs that make up this year’s ‘Ecstasy’ album, a satisfactory, more-of-the-same collection, lots of hip NYC street-vernacular from the wrong side of town, brutal satires on old relationships and candid tales of peripheral downbeats. The bass, drums and guitar accompaniment are tight, and as if Lou wants to prove how damn together he and his band are, he constantly signals for sudden stops, dramatic pauses and drawn-out climaxes. Lou‘s in control.

With a fuzzy but crisp sound, they bang out ‘Paranoia Key Of E’, ‘Mystic Child‘, ‘Ecstasy’, the sweet soul-searcher, ‘Modern Dance’ and the explicit and disturbing ‘Rock Minuet’. The bassist pulls out an upright electric bass and plays it with a bow, conjuring the most terrific vibrato din. Later, he’ll undo all his good work with a truly poxy and unnecessary bass solo, although he does get an excited smile from Lou, which is no mean feat. Meanwhile, Lou throws in ‘Set The Twilight Reeling’ from his 1996 album of the same name, and ‘Busload of Faith To Get By’ from ’89’s swaggering classic ‘New York’.

The encore prompts excited giggles from those waiting on a Velvets-style finale. We get ‘Sweet Jane’, fast and loud, but still terribly by-the-book. And then ‘Perfect Day’. Of all the songs from ‘Transformer’, why bother with this over-played, BBC-bastardised ballad? Worse still, it features a twiddly hard-rock guitar solo. And then he speaks. “You were wonderful. Thank you. It means a lot to us.” He punches the air, like some strange twitch of rehab psychology, and off he goes. No ‘White Light/White Heat’, ‘Rock And Roll’ or ‘Vicious’. But the old rocker done well.