bridget jones: the edge of reason (beeban kidron, 2004)
hey tom, read this

lou reed, winterland, 1974

Thirty years ago today, I saw Lou Reed in concert for the first time.

The Velvet Underground are my favorite rock and roll band of all time, but I never saw them live ... I was just a kid. I latched onto Lou Reed's solo career, though, and ended up seeing him many times between 1974 and ... I don't know, the late 80s. When Robin and I were first married, our "stereo" consisted of a mono record player that used to be my grandmother's. We only had a few albums, and we didn't really have enough money to go to many concerts ... earlier in '74 we'd seen Dylan with The Band, and Eric Clapton, and that was it, and those were the first two shows we attended together.

Early in 1974, Lou released Rock and Roll Animal, which turned Velvets songs into arena rockers, and did a very fine job of it, thank you. Later in the year he released the studio album Sally Can't Dance, considered by some to be his worst album ever. Me, I played it over and over on that little record player, although I haven't really listened to it in many years and don't think I even have any of the songs on my Karma. The red-hot band from Animal was gone, so the group we saw on November 22, 1974 at Winterland was not the one that had made metal fans happy.

Robin was a few months pregnant with Neal, and Winterland wasn't the place to be for her then ... the smoke didn't help, and I don't think she much liked the opening act, which if memory serves was Earthquake. Arthur Lee then played with a later version of Love ... he sang "Signed D.C." and wondered why the metalheads didn't understand it. Finally Lou came out ... he was 32 years old by then ... he walked onstage to the "Sweet Jane Intro" like he was a robot or something, and proceeded to crap on himself and the audience ... he never played guitar, probably didn't give a shit, but to be honest, I had no idea, all I knew was I was at Winterland, Lou Reed was onstage, and I was happy.

This was the tour where he famously simulating shooting up to introduce "Heroin" ... at the time I thought it was a brilliant artistic statement ... I was 21 years old then ... I was wrong. He sang Velvets songs, he sang songs from "Sally Can't Dance," and sometime during the show Preggers Robin couldn't take the noise and smoke any longer, and she went into the lobby and found an open window where she could get some fresh air ... she stuck her head out the window and discovered that the last person to do the same had puked all over the window sill. Which probably sums up the concert as well.

I saw Lou Reed play much better concerts ... I liked his "Take No Prisoners" band, which came to town about once a year and played small clubs. I never did see the Velvets, and I also missed out on the best of Lou's solo bands, the one with Robert Quine and the incomparable bassist Fernando Saunders. When it comes to live shows, I've mostly worked around the outside of Lou Reed's finest moments. But you can't ever forget your first time ... and now that I think of it, that might also have been my first concert at Winterland, a shithole that I grew to love, more for the great shows I saw there than for anything inherent in the fucking decrepit boxing arena. In the end, Lou Reed '74 wasn't one of the great shows, but what's the point of a blog if you can't indulge in a few memories of a time long ago, when I was working in a factory and had just turned 21 and was awaiting my first kid, and watching Lou Reed pretend to shoot up was my idea of a good time.

Comments

David

I was at that concert too. My memory is that we were sitting in the upper section and Robin didn't go to the lobby but up the stairs to a balcony kinda window.
And that Clapton concert you mentioned earlier in the year...thanks for that one. It was my first concert ever and you took me to see my guitar God live!
And I'll admit it - I still enjoy Sally Can't Dance.

Cynthia

I did not see Lou Reed at Winterland. But I did see him a few years ago at the Wiltern in LA. I also had tickets to see him at the Greek in 1992. That show that didn't happen because with the riots in LA, Lou was up here, but his equipment was still down south.

I think at 21 I would have thought pretending to shoot up on stage was high art too.

I was there too. Earthquake did perform, opening up with "Mr. Security". They also played a Velvets song, forget which one.
I was right up front (surrounded by leather-clad dark haired ladies), and it sure looked like Lou was shooting up.

It was the Pretty Things, not Earthquake.

Steven

Being that I've never seen the Pretty Things but I have seen Earthquake, I'm going to guess that the Pretty Things weren't at that Winterland show. This also lists it as Earthquake:

http://www2.cambridge.ma-usa.sugarmegs.org/billgrahm.txt

Pete Maloney

Definitely NOT Pretty Things, definitely Earthquake (I took photos of that Earthquake show)...

I remember being somewhat disappointed by Reed’s performance as well; he did an on-air interview that same day at KSAN radio and was a bunch of one word responses to the DJ questions, so maybe he just wasn’t feeling good that whole day.

Dawn Bailey

I was at that show. Loved Lou so much!
I thought I saw Lou twice at Winterland but not sure, I know I saw him at the Warfield and Iggy Pop opened for him.
Does anyone remember if there were huge fake television sets on the stage for the his Winterland show?
I have a vague memory of that but we had smoked some crazy strong weed waiting in line to get in so not totally sure.
Anyone remember?

Steven Rubio

Hi Dawn. I believe the show you are thinking of was at Berkeley Community Theater in 1976, part of the Rock and Roll Heart tour. Check here and scroll down for a photo from a different show on that tour:

http://www.rirocks.net/Band%20Articles/Lou%20Reed%201976%2010.29%20-%20Orpheum%20Theatre.htm

Frank

I hope Robin and Neal are well. You were the little teeny boy who didn't belong at that show. Reed hit junk that night. Pretend he didn't and love the suburbs. Ask a junkie if you ever knew one. Square. Loser.

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