Lou Reed at Massey Hall, June 13. Tickets: $35.50-$65. Attendance: 2,100. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Since this was a Lou Reed show, where entertainment value is never really a prime concern, it could easily have turned out to be a horrifying recreation of his confounding Edgar Allan Poe homage, The Raven. Scary, yes, but then again, a real-time rethink of Metal Machine Music could be so much more painful and not entirely out of the question.
All such fears were put to rest by the opening good-timey jaunt through Sweet Jane, which gave notice that the relaxed and healthy-looking Reed was in rare crowd-pleasing mode.
That's not to say the notorious Mr. Surly was all smiles, kissing drag queens and playing shouted Velvets requests, yet Reed was far more engaging and giving onstage than anyone could've hoped.
There was even some witty banter about the uncomplicated structure of his songs that could have been interpreted as self-effacing. For Reed, that's an amazing turn.
During Growing Up In A Small Town, Reed paused to ponder why some Canadian icons no longer reside in Canada. "What's up with Joni and Neil?" he wondered aloud. "Come back to your roots. Hey, I still live in New York!" The crowd roared, and for the rest of the evening Reed could do no wrong.
There were a few patience-testing moments during the regrettable excursions into Ecstasy territory and a spotlight moment for Fernando Saunders that the bassist stretched out for what seemed like hours. It was anybody's guess what the tai chi exhibition was all about.
An unexpectedly ferocious rip through Set The Twilight Reeling, the tender take on Candy Says poignantly crooned by a backing vocalist introduced only as Anthony and the closing encore blast through Heroin made the few dull patches easy to overlook.