Friday, February 26, 2010

Live Review - Tibet House Benefit @ Carnegie Hall

It was a night of peace, love and punk rock as religion, politics and action came together in the austere and dignified Carnegie Hall in a beautiful cause on a long winters night. The 20th annual Philip Glass curated Tibet House Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall boasted big acts like the Godfather and Godmother of punk Iggy Pop and Patti Smith to Regina Spektor and Gogol Bordello. Aside from the big names, it was an interesting array of people inside the legendary venue; from the stuffy uptown crowd who paid big bucks for their tickets to the hipster and yuppie crowds of the Village and Brooklyn all congregating together under one roof in the name of justice and music. Opening the night was a prayer and performance from Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery, who as in prayer made everyone reflect on the real reason we were gathering together, the idea that social change and justice needs to be given to the people of Tibet, that the peaceful plateau and location in China should be it's own sovereign nation.
While global acts such as Bajah from Sierra Leone, 15 year old Tenzil Kunsel of Tibet, Pierce Turner and the curator himself - world famous composer Philip Glass who entertain and enlighten the crowd for most of the evening, the biggest applause started coming from the big name heavy weights.
In a short three song set, Regina Spektor the Russian-American beauty with the voice of an angel, sat behind a grand piano and did what she did best - made every jaw in the room hit the floor. From singing in her native Russian to English and enchanting the crowd with her voice, playing and lyrics, Regina only left everyone begging for more. As soon as Spektor wrapped, Brooklyn global sensations Gogol Bordello walked on stage. Starting off in a unplugged acoustic set, it already was a weird vibe from the Balkan gypsy punks. When you see Gogol it is just 500% energy, nonstop. You would never expect them to pull off an unplugged style acoustic set, yet they did, but their surprise didn't last long. Indeed gone were the back up dancers, the sling shot around singer Eugene Huntz neck and the flamboyant pirate outfits, but by their last song they had all of Carnegie Hall forget where they were and had everyone clapping and on their feet! Even in the most lavish and sophisticated venues, Gogol Bordello will still be the most fun you have seeing any act at any time. True entertainers.
From classical to Afro-funk to Asian folk to electro to punk to folk, the night would end in true legendary punk rock fashion. Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. Smith and her band came on stage singing "Love Train," and had the crowd on their feet clapping and singing. The legendary female singer and poet looked as jolly and as joyful as she ever would, yet when need be she will turn into the raging angst driven female that has been driving her music and talent for years. The legend did not have anything to prove but just lets have fun for a night, and fun we as the audience did. I was so happy I finally had a chance to see Smith after all these years, yet just as her set winded down she introduced the man that is a one man wrecking ball - Iggy Pop. The Godfather of punk came on stage in a black shirt and black jeans and that didn't last very long. With Pop and Smith, still backed by her band and a string quartet, Pop opened with "Passenger," the haunting classic was on fire and so was he. Taking his shirt off and running on stage in true Iggy fashion, the man, who has been through hell and back still showed off he still had what it takes to rock harder than any person you will ever see. With security at Carnegie Hall just giving up on the crowd as they rushed the stage, Pop swung his mic stand like a helicopter over his head, tossed it to the floor and repeated the scenario as he led the crowd into the night. Closing with "I Want to be Your Dog," Iggy may have given a taste as to what he will do when finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month, nonetheless the fact that two legends shared the same stage, a memory no one in attendance will ever forget.