Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tibetan Muck

Last night my friend J___ and I attended the Tibet House Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall. It had quite an impressive line-up: Laurie Andrews, Ray Davies, Debbie Harry, Ben Harper, Lou Reed, Sigur Ros, and Michael Stipe, all organized by Philip Glass. Too bad it was such an utter dud. The evening started with a performance from a choir / band-type thing of monks coming from “the Harvard of Tibet.” Sorry if this is politically incorrect, but they sounded like they came from the Widney High of Tibet. Their singing was out of sync and off-key, and then they played a seemingly random assortment of tambourines and horns. It was pure nonsensical noise for 10 minutes. As for the known musicians, I realize that this is a benefit to raise money for a somber cause, but that didn’t mean their performances had to be utterly lifeless. Only Ray Davies’ set had any energy (fortunately it was the longest of the night, 4 songs). Debbie Harry reprised her acoustic CBGB gig for two adequate numbers (plus an unnecessary duet with Ray on “Lola”), Lou Reed, Sigur Ros, and Ben Harper played entirely forgettable sets, and Michael Stipe spent more time babbling about what it meant to be there and about the meaning of his new song "Chorus and the Ring" (which he’d never sung anywhere before) than he spent actually singing. Patti Smith ended the night with a bit of pep, but when she brought everyone out to perform “People Have the Power,” she lowered herself from the stage to mingle with the audience and then couldn’t climb back onto it. It summed up the evening perfectly: good intentions, terrible execution. If the money hadn’t gone to a good cause, I’d be pretty peeved right now. As it stands, I’m still not thrilled.

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