Lou Reed

Live at Montreux 2000

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Lou Reed's Ecstasy album was a unique break from his early-'90s trio of discs, Songs for Drella, Magic and Loss and Set the Twilight Reeling. On Ecstasy, the artist broke through with a renewed passion for his art and found new elements to excite and intrigue his devotees. When the tour hit Boston in June of 2000 it was clear that Reed knew how to keep the college crowd in tune with his vision while continuing to play to the faithful. Reed's soundman, Dinky Dawson, from the Berlin tour, and his wife went to this show and all agreed it was clear that Reed had crafted a distinctly different live sound to back up the album. It was abrasive, but devoured by the twenty-somethings. Luckily, it translates far better on DVD and the Live at Montreux 2000 turns out to be a revelation. This is serious stuff! And where the old crowd of concert tapers had put their recording equipment away for this onslaught of sound in Boston, the Eagle Vision release shows how the clever pioneer seems to have crafted this tour for high tech. The videography, performance and intensity are all top-notch -- a vast difference over the uneven Spanish Fly: Lou Reed Live in Spain taped in 2004 and released almost simultaneously with this. Reed live is a very interesting creature, from the 1973 tours Rock N Roll Animal to 1978's Live: Take No Prisoners, 1984's Live in Italy and 2004's Animal Serenade from the 2003 tour. One never knows what the artist is going to present, which keeps him so enigmatic. The band here, as on Spanish Fly, is the exquisite cellist Jane Scarpantoni, bassistFernando Saunders, and guitarist Mike Rathke, but the delivery is so much more intriguing that on Spanish Fly. "Ecstasy" contains real drama, more effective than the monotone employed on "Perfect Day," though that song from Transformer is always welcome. Scarpantoni adds so much to this quartet plus one, orchestral as opposed to John Cale's manic viola, while the band as a foursome explode on "Set the Twilight Reeling," which is far more inviting on DVD at this Montreux Jazz Festival than it felt live in Boston. Not that the Boston show wasn't just as good -- as stated -- Reed knows how to play to the camera. This show was designed to be captured high tech, not on mini-disc, and Reed Live at Montreux 2000 is an essential chapter for fans. It begs repeated spins, and with the onslaught of DVDs being thrust upon the public, it's all about the performance. Comes with a classy six page booklet. A keeper.

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