LOU REED - "WE'RE NOT PLAYING: LIVE IN ALBURY 1977" CS
1977 Lou Reed embarked on his third tour of Australia in four years. Billed as "The Return Of The Rock'n'Roll Animal", the tour saw him driving down the east coast, stopping off at all the capital cities alongside, somewhat surprisingly, regional shows in both Newcastle and NSW/VIC boarder town Albury.
Upon his arrival into Albury, Lou didn't get off to a great start. A planned interview with newspaper The Murray River Rambler at the local pizza restaurant lasted all of one word, "hi", before Lou slipped into unconsciousness at the table. Apart from occasionally raising his head to take a sip of water, Reed was totally unresponsive and eventually had to be taken back to his tour van by his handler in an attempt to sober him up before the evening's performance. Said performance would also not go quite according to plan.
Held at the Regent Theatre, a still operating cinema that was briefly used for live performances in the 1970s, security for the event was handled by the local biker gang. The same bikies would lend Meatloaf a Harley to ride on-stage at his Albury show the next year; a show that also fell into chaos when Meatloaf became trapped under the bike as he attempted to dismount.
From the very beginning the vibe wasn't great. The show drew about 800 people, a sizeable amount for any regional town but one that nevertheless left the two tiered theatre auditorium looking half empty. Despite these perceived setbacks, the show actually gets off to a great start. Lou's band are in extremely fine form, especially local backup singer Jo-Anna Kamorin, and Lou himself warms up pretty quickly.
It all falls apart three songs in though, when ~someone~ throws ~something~ on the stage. Newspaper reports of the show say someone threw a lolly, whilst anecdotally it's also been said that somebody threw a beer. Whatever it is, Lou totally cracks the shits, stops the band and refuses to play any more, walking off stage.
In the following 25 minutes all hell breaks loose. The bikie security don’t exactly do much to quell the rising levels of violence and the police are called under the assumption that there could be a riot. Eventually, after a promise from the organisers that the audience would be on their best behaviour, Lou and band are persuaded to return to the stage.
Despite all that's happened, or maybe because of it, the rest of the set is red hot. I don't know if it was the antagonistic crowd, or maybe the extra lines they had the chance to do backstage in the downtime, but Albury is treated to stretched out and screwed up versions of all the hits, played with a ferocity that isn't often associated with this stage of Lou's career.
As both a unique curio of Lou Reed's relationship with Australia, and also a scorching document of this period of his career, "We're Not Playing" is invaluable. Highly recommended.
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