Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire Salute Lou Reed With His Biggest Hits
Patti Smith, David Byrne remember Velvet Underground frontman after recent passing
Lou Reed’s death on October 27 at age 71 continues to resonate across the music world. Social media can make it easy for memorial tributes to turn into an off-putting spectacle, but even in the smart-phone era a live show remains a powerful place to bring people together around a communal emotion. Shortly after Reed’s passing, reportedly from liver disease, the likes of Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, and Jenny Lewis saluted the New York icon with covers of songs he wrote for the Velvet Underground.
Now Arctic Monkeys and Arcade Fire have paid their own respects with covers of Reed’s most famous solo songs. Above, watch the British band gamely perform 1972 album Transformer’s oft-sampled “Walk on the Wild Side,” that song’s mix of R&B-informed backing vocals and street-level glam rock bringing out previously unexplored similarities with Alex Turner & co.’s new AM. Meanwhile, Arcade Fire — whose Reflektor is out today — interpolated snippets of two other Transformer songs, “Satellite of Love” and “Perfect Day,” into a live radio concert, which you can hear over at NPR. (ArcadeFireTube first reported the Reed songs.)
Earlier on October 28, praise poured in for Reed from a couple of his pioneering contemporaries. Patti Smith told Rolling Stone, “Lou was a very special poet – a New York writer in the way that Walt Whitman was a New York poet.” Smith pointed to VU’s “Pale Blue Eyes” as a favorite Reed song of hers in a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Elsewhere, David Byrne wrote an extensive salute, which you can read in full at RS. “His work and that of the Velvets was a big reason I moved to NY and I don’t think I’m alone there,” the former Talking Heads frontman’s statement reads. “We wanted to be in a city that nurtured and fed that kind of talent.
Also check out our Reed tributes from critics Dave Hickey and Robert Christgau, as well as a critical discography by our own David Marchese, and see statements on the man from John Cale, David Bowie, and more.