SXSW Live Shot: Garland Jeffreys

Lou Reed and back again, with a lot more urban soul

While a galaxy of stars were paying tribute to Lou Reed a few blocks away at the Paramount Theatre, Reed’s former college classmate and fellow urban poet Garland Jeffreys, who had performed at the Reed show earlier, was back in club mode, delivering a lean, mean showcase set with the grace and class that one has come to expect from him.

Photo by John Anderson

The Brooklyn native’s Seventies albums established him as one of the era’s most distinctive and eloquent songwriters, powerfully exploring issues of race, sex and family, while also presenting him as a thinking person’s rock & roller in the age of punk.

He recently ended a long layoff from recording with 2011’s The King of In Between and last year’s Truth Serum, whose emotionally direct songcraft ranks with his best vintage work. Despite the modest Sixth Street setting and some technical glitches early in the set, Jeffreys rose to the strength of the material and delivered a punchy, impassioned set of recent tunes and old favorites.

Accompanied by a solid fourpiece combo, the ageless 71-year-old frequently left the stage in mid-song to engage with the crowd, delivering new tunes “Any Rain” and “It’s What I Am” as well as vintage classics including “35 Millimeter Dreams,” “I May Not Be Your Kind,” and set-closing anthem “Wild in the Streets” with a more seasoned version of the same charisma and intensity as in the old days.

Then he returned to the Paramount in time for the all-star finale.

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