A magnificent take on Reed’s classic lp that’s only occasionally schnabelled up with pointless eye candy.
Musically, I prefer the rough power of this concert performance to the original studio cuts. Reed’s aged voice seems to suit the material better than when it had a sweeter lilt to it. It peaks with a gorgeous “Caroline Says II” with Anohni singing harmony.
You’d think the director would have enough visual options with the band, a conductor, brass and string sections, a youth choir, and two celebrity backup singers (plus video projections), but he keeps cutting away to staged footage of “Caroline,” a character from the album. Even when the images recall Warhol or Jack Smith, the shift from the musicians creates a drag on the energy.
After the album’s performance, the band does two spare and startling encore tracks, plus a perfunctory “Sweet Jane.”
This can be streamed free via StAnnsWarehouse.org through November 29, 2020 only.