Life along the borderline – A tribute to Nico curated by John Cale at BAM
It’s always lovely to see a rock show set up in a classical music venue. When the show is a tribute to German performance artist and Warhol Superstar Nico, curated by the legendary John Cale and performed by singers like Peaches, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Joan as Policewoman, and Sharon von Etten – this makes it even better.
The sold-out event started a little after 8pm in the packed Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Strings and guitars accompanied John Cale’s powerful voice in the opening Facing the Wind. We didn’t hear a spoken word from him or any commentary during the show; he let the music speak for itself. Kim Gordon and Bill Nace appeared second on the stage, and performed a highly distorted version of It Was a Pleasure Then from Nico’s debut solo album Chelsea Girl. The venue had really incredible sound and acoustics, which highlighted the great choice of songs, diverse voices and varied styles. The electroclash artist & DJ Peaches revealed a surprisingly deep and clean voice, singing Mutterlein and Abschied in her native German. She didn’t renege on her eccentric style, as she wore stunning heel-less shoes and a fur-sleeved top, before changing into a zebra-print robe. One of the most applauded performers on stage was Alison Mosshart from The Kills, shining with her stage appearance and very strong performances of Tananore and Fearfully in Danger.
The audience at BAM also had the pleasure of hearing Joan as Policewoman, with a powerful piano cover of My Heart is Empty and then Ari’s Song. Sharon Van Etten’s voice was beautifully bizarre in Falconer, which she sang with John Cale on the piano. Meshell Ndegeocello also featured in the show, as well as Mercury Rev, Greg Dulli and Yeasayer. There were guitars played with fiddle-bow, heavy synths, acoustic pieces, noise, guitars, male and female vocals. And even though we didn’t hear either of Nico’s most famous songs from the album The Velvet Underground and Nico, the show was fantastic. John Cale did an amazing job curating a beautiful memorial to his former Velvet Underground bandmate Nico, who died in 1988.
Photos: Stephanie Berger
Cale is also performing his introspective 1973 pop-art landmark Paris 1919 on January 18th and 19th, along with songs from his latest album Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood and previous records, accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra. Tickets are available on BAM’s website with prices ranging from $14 to $80.
Watch the video for Nico’s My Heart is Empty here:
Watch the official video for Face to the Sky from John Cale’s new album Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood here: