"Sally Can't Dance" Tour, August 1974
Lou Reed [vocals]
DATES / CITIES / VENUES:
17 August 1974 - Adelaide - Festival Hall*
19 August 1974 - Melbourne - Festival Hall(?)
20 August 1974 - Sydney - Hordern Pavilion*
21 August 1974 - Sydney - Hordern Pavilion*
22 August 1974 - Sydney - Hordern Pavilion*
?? August 1974 - New Zealand -
*Concert recorded and released as a bootleg.
World Tour, July-August 1975
Lou Reed [vocals and guitar]
SUPPORT ACT: Split Enz
DATES / CITIES / VENUES:
17 July 1975 - Adelaide - Festival Hall
19 July 1975 - Sydney - Hordern Pavilion
21 July 1975 - Sydney - Hordern Pavilion
29 July 1975 - Melbourne - Festival Hall
3 August 1975 - Christchurch, New Zealand - (venue?)
(4?) August 1975 - Wellington - Town Hall (cancelled)
As well giving Australian audiences their first live encounters with the legendary Velvet Underground founder, Lou Reed's 1974 and 1975 tours were also important showcases for local acts.
Reed's backing group for the 1974 tour were all former members of the American band Rhinoceros (whose fascinating history can be found on the Rhinoceros website). Rhinoceros had split in late 1971 but the four musicians were reunited for this leg of the Reed tour. Fonfara and Weis had been recruited to play on Lou Reed's Sally Can't Dance LP with drummer Pentti Glan and bassist Prakash John. That line-up stayed together as Reed's backing band for the European leg of the tour but then Glan and John left, so the former Rhinoceros rhythm section of Mouse Johnson and Peter Hodgson was drafted in for the Australasian and US dates. Fonfara remained a member of Reed's touring bands for most of his tours up to and includng 1980.
The Australasian tour followed hot on the heels of the July release of Reed's most controversial and avant-garde recording, the infamous Metal Machine Music, a double album which has been referred to as a "fuck you" message directed his record label, intended to demolish his pop-star image. Many have assumed that it was indeed a joke, but there is considerable evidence, including Reed's own testimony, that he intended it as a totally serious project. As originally released on LP, it consists of four identical-length (16:01) side-long tracks of abrasive electronic noise, which Reed apparently recorded over a couple of weeks in his New York loft (did he have tolerant neighbours, or what?). Instead of synthesisers, Reed used two guitars, two amps, and a Uher four-track recorder. He drove the equipment into feedback (adding minor instrumental touches such as vibrato, and some near-subliminal guitar lines) then treated the tracks with a variety of electronic devices and techniques, creating what might loosely be termed "ambient heavy metal". As a final provocative touch, Reed got the RCA engineers to cut the end of Side 4 as a "locked groove" (like the endless run-out track on Sgt Pepper's) so that the last moments of the music would loop ad infinitum until the needle was lifted off the vinyl.
Reed himself has described the double album as "the perfect soundtrack to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Lester Bangs raved about it in Psychotic Reactions (though he was virtually the only person who reviewed it positively) and it is arguably the logical conclusion to many of Reed's previous experiments with 'structured noise' including his work with Velvet Underground. But as reviewer Mark Hughes has noted, few people have willingly listened to all four sides of the album in a single sitting; even fewer would have given it a second hearing, and for most people it was frankly unlistenable. It's surprising that RCA released it at all (major labels have rejected albums far more substantial than this) and it's even more surprising that it sold as well as it did -- some 100,000 copies, reportedly. But Rolling Stone voted it "worst album of the year" and many buyers returned their copies for a refund, assuming that the records were defective. And it was probably no coincidence that Metal Machine Music was Reed's second-last LP for RCA; after the release of the entirely conventional Coney Island Baby album in December 1975, he switched to the Arista label and embarked on a new phase of his career.
As Metal Machine Music demonstrated, Reed was a pioneer of punk media provocation and his Sydney press conference -- the grand-daddy of countless subsequent "punk" interviews -- was a classic of its kind. It was filmed by the ABC's GTK and although it's not known for sure whether this footage has survived, it's likely that (because it was filmed rather than videotaped) it is still in the ABC archives somewhere. I well remember watching it when it was broadcast on GTK, with local media hacks floundering as they tried to extract answers from the morose, monosyllabic Reed.
Reed's 1975 tour (which included latter-day Velvet Underground guitarist Doug Yule) coincided with the tour by noted American singer-songwriters Flo & Eddie (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman), formerly of The Turtles and Frank Zappa's early '70s version of The Mothers. In Sydney (and possibly in other cities) Reed and Flo & Eddie delighted audiences by making guest appearances at each other's concerts. Flo & Eddie reportedly appeared and sang backing vocals on Walk On The Wild Side during at least one of Reed's Sydney concerts. Reed's second tour provided one of several prestigious support slots for Split Enz; during that year they also supported Flo & Eddie, Leo Sayer and Roxy Music.
According to the information on Enrique Miquel's "Rock And Roll Animal Web Page" (supplied by Gordon Lyon) all the dates on the Australian leg of the 1975 World Tour were recorded, presumably as bootlegs. Whether professional recordings of this tour exist is not known; it is remotely possible that Double Jay in Sydney may have recorded all or part of the Sydney concert, but this is only conjectural.
Christchurch was evidently the final show of the Australasian leg of the tour; Reed returned to New York after cancelling the scheduled final concert in Wellington. A week later he embarked on a 13-date "Startruckin' 75" European tour but this was abandoned due to "personal problems" after only one show in Leiden, Holland.
Corrections? More information? Did you see this tour?
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