The second time I saw Lou Reed was in the Dope City Opera House. Sonja phoned and phoned as soon as tickets went on sale. When she got through she bought us tickets on the front row of the balcony. It had been over fifteen years since I saw Lou play in London with my old buddy Hank. I like to have something to look forward to in life; was I ever looking forward to the show.
I had only ever seen one show in the Opera House before. Sonja and I were stuck in the back of the place to see the Psychedelic Furs many years earlier. I prefer to see bands in smaller places, where a good seat is near the bar and you can lean your head out the back door into a putrid alley to vomit should the need arise.
It was the Magic and Loss tour. I knew ahead of time Lou would be playing his whole new record and a few from his incomparable past. The drugs kicked in, like everyone else's in the house, as Lou and his band faced a Dope City crowd for the first time since his Rock 'n' Roll Heart tour.
Lou, who was supposed to die from drugs in the 70s, looked every one of his years from the neck up. But he had the body of a much younger man. I knew then he was going to be with us for many, many years to come. I learned later that his secret, when he was really giving her, was to try and counteract his substance taking with healthy eating and exercize. It is the very same formula I have used to good effect in my life. If you cannot keep it clean, eat your green beans and get on the exercize machine.
Lou and his band were much quieter than when I saw Lou play in '77. We were so close we could hear his pick on his guitar strings on all but a few songs. The dark material of the songs lifted my spirits like all Lou's songs do. All Lou's fans love it when he turns his guitar way up so Warrior King was probably the highlight of the night.
At the end of the show Lou played Sweet Jane, a song I have listened to many thousands of times. It is one of rock 'n' roll's perfect songs. And if Lou ever gets tired of playing it you sure could not tell. It is a treat to hear live, and, if it was not already, became a part of the Canadian rock 'n' roll heart after the Cowboy Junkies hit it out of the park.