On Thursday night at Carnegie, I witnessed a spectacularly star studded affair called the 25th Anniversary Tibetan US Benefit Concert hosted by the esteemed Phillip Glass. Boasting of a long list of New York City favorites from the CBGB crowd, every artist got about one or two songs in a revolving door of eclectic performances. It was a gala event to gain awareness for the Tibetan oppression by China, and the proceeds went to the continuing cause. A lot of Tibetans refugees showed up both on the stage and in the audience, and this fact was at the tip of the performer’s conscious throughout. The Flaming Lips and Patti Smith headlined the night before the whole cast of performers (including Coyne’s fwend Miley Cyrus!) came out and did a rousing rendition of “People Have the Power.”
Phillip Glass, at 78 years, was a gracious host, coming out personally to introduce his long-time friends, including the long-time New York avant-gard staple and widow of Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson. Laurie Anderson played throughout the night, first playing a violin duet, and then reading a memoir / short story outlining a relationship she had with a teacher who gave her the advice, “You should try to feel sad, without being sad.” This line encapsulates the entire night’s tone, which was equally a celebration of the differences that people can make through music and awareness, and the deep sadness that there’s still so much work to be done.
Sturgill Simpson came out and played some country songs. Debbie Harry came out and played “Heart of Glass” to a dancing, admittedly older crowd than myself. Ashley MacIsaac, the “bad boy of world music” came out in a kilt and played Celtic fiddle with Maybelle Chisholm McQueen joining him on piano. Tenzin Choegyal, a Tibetan refugee, came out with Laurie Anderson and Phillip Glass joining him for some spirited Tibetan chants and songs. Ira Glass, Phillip’s cousin and famous author, read some Allen Ginsberg poems with his cousin backing him up on piano.
The highlights of the night, however, were at the end, with The Flaming Lips coming out and doing a faithful rendition of “She’s Leaving Home” by the Beatles, which was on their latest Heady Fwends release. It made good use of the Scorchio Quartet, the “house strings” that were on the stage for most of the night. They followed this up by doing a rendition of David Bowie’s “Sense of Doubt” which was a song that they were joined by Phillip Glass and Julianne Warwick, who really brought the song up to a new level. After the Flaming Lips came out, Patti Smith and her Family Band came out. After a spoken “Birthday Poem” to the Dalai Lama for his upcoming 80th, the band ripped into a powerful version of their classic song “Gandhi” which stretched out and had people on their feet and dancing in the aisles.
The night ended with everyone coming out, including Miley Cyrus, and everyone singing “People Have the Power,” another Patti Smith classic. Spirits were high in Carnegie Hall and everyone left on a high note.
Article by: Steven Klett
Photos: Michael DiGiovanni