Birthdays are always worth celebrating and being able to do it at such a grand place as Carnegie Hall must be a great feeling. The legendary Philip Glass even said so, as he turned 80, and at first didn’t want the celebration, but the rehearsals the previous day made him change his mind. He was seen throughout the night introducing every act to come to the stage and even playing with some. Mr. Glass was praised by every performer during the evening not only for this birthday, but also the great work he has been doing for The Tibet House.
To start the evening, as they do every year, a group of Monks came out to do their beautiful hypnotic chanting. With a quick bow after they finished, they quietly exited the stage to a rapturous applause from the packed room. Robert Thurman made a quick speech next, welcoming us to the year of the firebird to bring us out of the year of the monkey, the orange monkey he quickly restated. With that Phillip came out to welcome us and bring out Laurie Anderson. She did an amazing piece about the current state of affairs, her feelings about missing Lou Reed still, and existentialism. It was a wild piece that saw her play violin, keyboard, and warp her vocals near the end of it.
After she finished Phillip Glass came back out with the Scorchio Quartet and Mick Rossi on percussion and performed a piece written by Glass and filled the hall with a wild sonic soundscape. Phillip’s son Zack came out next and did a quick little folk song, which was then followed by one of the major highlights of the night in Alabama Shake’s three song set. “Gimmie All Your Love” shook the building with Brittany’s vocals and guitar work and then the one-two punch of “Over My Head” and “Sound & Color” showed the softer side of the group. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation once the band finished their set.
Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith were up next. The first song had Tenzin do his part in Tibetan vocal chants and Jesse translate for the crowd into English and play the piano. The second song had Tenzin on guitar and vocals and his lyrics were filled with an amazing amount of emotion. It was a beautiful mid-show set and the perfect come down from Alabama Shakes. Ben Harper strode out next and played a perfect “Paris Sunrise #7>Lifeline” before bringing his daughter out to play and sing on “Everything.” Watching Ben watch his daughter play and sing was just wonderful to watch.
Iggy Pop and New Order were out next for a wild three song set. The crowd called for Iggy to take off his jacket and shirt, but we’d only get the jacket as this show is always a classy affair. Iggy still bounded all over the stage showing he has no signs of slowing down. He melded in perfectly with New Order and everyone seemed to be having a blast working together, as they did a few years back at the same benefit show. Anthony Romero, the ACLU Executive Director, came out next and spoke about how much we need to be calm and use positive thought in today’s world, as Philip Glass has done for so long. With that he introduced Sufjan Stevens who played his first song with Patti Smith’s Band. They turned “The Star-Spangled Banner” into an amazing indie rock song. It was easily one of the best moments of the night and was followed by Sufjan playing with Cat Martino and Thomas Bartlett on a short but sweet “Happy Birthday Song.”
To close the night, Patti Smith and her band came out to a grand welcoming by the crowd. Patti spoke about having done this benefit for 20 years and the love she has for Allen Ginsberg, who brought her into it, and Philip Glass and that for both of them she would start her set with “Hard Rain is Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan. Her rendition was flawless and after that her and the band rocked out to “Citizenship” before bringing every performer out for “People Have the Power” which of course brought everyone to their feet. Patti passionately sang the lyrics to the audience holding hands with some of the Monks and other performers from the evening. With a big wave from all the performers the evening ended and another year’s show came to a close. Hopefully next year another great group of artists will come to Carnegie Hall.
Article: Bryan Lasky