Lou Reed set the stage

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By Marc Dean

Lou Reed has been an iconoclast of rock since his 1966 start with the Velvet Underground, called by some ‘the three cord poet’, proves with “Animal Serenade” why he has influenced generations of psychedelic/garage rock bands across the world. This two disk live cd from his 2003 tour is a gem for the longtime listener and new ones as well. Lou, choosing the very best of his catalogue, from Velvet Underground classics like “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Sunday Morning” to later solo songs such as “Dirty Blvd.” and “Street Hassle.” He portrays these songs in a darker and more somber light as though forty years of writing about New York City street culture has finally taken its toll. Starting the show with an introduction of his band, Lou wanted it to be upfront that there were no overdubs, pre-recorded loops, or that any other show production used, letting the audience know his music was pure. The show then becomes a semi-psychedelic, slightly bluesy journey of a man evoking personal demons, coming to terms with the abstracts of life, and emerging as the last of his kind. Performing close to ten-minute versions of every song, sonic landscapes of guitar genius showed that his skill has yet to rust. Yet, these long ragas never bore the listener, but instead leave a feeling that one missed an incredible show. The slowed down tribute to an S&M dominatrix, “Venus in Furs,” has never sounded so passionate or so beautiful. His ode to addiction, “Heroin,” seems no longer like a story of a man on the edge of destruction, but instead a story of survival. However, the cd is not all tragic songs, Lou shows that he still has a sense of humor with “Smalltown” and his own poetic version of “The Raven.” Lou Reed’s career has spanned nearly forty years staring in New York’s pop art scene playing at parties for Andy Warhol, has worked with other legends such as John Lennon, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and his influence can be felt across the decades in bands diverse as the Talking Heads, the Cure, and the White Stripes. However, unlike most rock stars of his time, Lou’s music seems to age like a fine wine and can put any of the new “retro” bands like Jet or the Strokes to shame.