“As you enjoy the show, offer your enjoyment up to bless all the suffering beings around the world, and we shall overcome.” These powerful words came from Robert Thurman, President of Tibet House US, and brought out an uninhibited burst of applause from the once-calm Carnegie crowd. They took the message to heart, thoroughly enjoying artists like Sharon Jones and FKA Twigs, and even rushing the stage for Iggy Pop as the vigilant ushers conceded, their flashlights flickering away for the night.
This year’s 26th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert brought together such a wide variety of talent that, as Philip Glass noted, the lineup spanned a 50-year age range and numerous countries of origin. Proceeds from the event were donated to Tibet House US, an organization (of which Glass is a founding member) commissioned by the Dalai Lama for the preservation of Tibetan culture. This mission was front and center as each artist, shimmering in traditional Tibetan attire, celebrated love and compassion in their own unique way.
The music was as intricate and regal as the golden space encompassing it. The vastness of Carnegie Hall was strikingly tranquil as Glass welcomed a stunning stream of talent onto the stage, including multi-instrumentalist Basia Bulat, kora master and griot Foday Musa Suso, harpist Lavinia Meijer, and the Scorchio Quartet. The audience was also treated to soothing traditional chants from Tibetan Monks, and a breathtaking performance by Dechen Shak-Dagsay and Helge Van Dyk.
The energy intensified with a soulful explosion from Sharon Jones, who danced and grooved with Patti Smith’s own talented band. FKA Twigs followed with an electrifying vocal performance that became a visual one too, her fluid dancing evoking the strength of a warrior. Then Gogol Bordello took us to a totally different place, igniting a bold rush of Gypsy punk that filled every corner of the hall.
“Please welcome Iggy Pop,” said Glass in a way that was almost amusingly nonchalant, as if he were offering a glass of water or announcing a chance of rain. For a brief moment, you could see fans trying to assess how loudly they were allowed to scream in present company. But they quickly gave in to the uproar, and Iggy Pop’s godfatherly presence alone was worth every cheer.
Lifting the curtain on what a deeply introspective soul he is, the legend began by performing stream-of-consciousness poetry over Glass’ compositions, traversing the full realm of human emotion with his words. Then, in honor of David Bowie, Iggy Pop completely rocked out to “Jean Genie” and “Tonight,” with the full lineup joining him for a moving finish. If spreading love was the goal, there’s no doubt they succeeded.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley