Berlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse (Matador)
Reviewed by Francesca Camillo, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008
Lou ReedBerlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse (Matador)
The harrowing chronicle of Caroline and Jim is forever preserved in Lou Reed's cardinal work Berlin, a venerably filthy rock opera originally released in 1973. In 2006, he galvanized his energies and resuscitated the album in a live performance at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn after entreating filmmaker Julian Schnabel to record it. Mauling the melodious arrangements of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and accompanying orchestral pearls in addition to Steve Hunter, Berlin's original guitarist; Sharon Jones; and diaphanous-voiced Antony, Berlin: Live at St. Ann's Warehouse is a hazy descent into the sinuous perils of abuse, deviant sex, rage, and loss. The playful intro to "Caroline Says, Pt. 1" leads to the funereal mother-child disconnect of "Caroline Says, Pt. 2," impelling Reed to momentarily step back in "The Kids" and leave it to the Youth Chorus to convey the sorrow that spreads in a mother's absence. As the narrative unravels, loss becomes tactile, and heartbreak compounds with each step toward the renovated-Velvet encore, creating a distinct line between Caroline, Jim, and everyone on the other side.