The Year of the Iron Mouse began
with a musical bang at Carnegie Hall, when Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Margo Price,
Sandra Oh, Bettye LaVette, Tenzin Choegyal, Matt Berninger, Phoebe Bridgers, the
Resistance Revival Chorus, and Laurie Anderson headlined the 33rd Annual Tibet
House US Benefit Concert. Philip Glass curated and led the concert. Proceeds
from the concert supported the work of Tibet House US, a non-profit educational
institution founded in 1987 at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to
ensure the survival of Tibetan civilization and culture.
Monks from the Drepung Gomang
Monastery opened the concert with sonorous invocation chants, followed by
remarks from Tibet House US’ president, Bob Thurman, and vice president, Philip
Glass. Thurman told the audience that Tibetans were living under intense military
surveillance since January 14. Stewart Hurwood then performed an avant garde
composition using various synthesizers.
Laurie Anderson, Jesse Paris Smith,
and Tibetan exile Tenzin Choegyal performed with Rubin Kodheli from their
collaborative album, Songs from the Bardo.
Anderson also revisited her 1982 song “From the Air,” asking the
audience to participate in a call and response “We don’t know what we are”
and “This is the time.”
Born out of the Women’s March on
Washington, the all-women Resistance Revival Chorus is a New York City-based
collective of about 50 women who sing protest songs. Dressed in white, the
women gathered in the back of Carnegie Hall and walked down the aisles and onto
the stage, singing a cappella a timeless Chinese proverb affirming the
interdependent natures of light, beauty, harmony, honor and peace.
Phoebe Bridgers, formerly of boygenius
and Better Oblivion Community Center, is now a solo performer. Playing acoustic
guitar, she performed a live debut of “Garden Song” and “Scott
Street” with a small band plus a string ensemble, the Scorchio Quartet.
Matt Berninger of the National then joined her on stage to duet on the song
they recorded together, “Walking on a String.” Bridgers then left the
stage and Berninger performed two more songs, ending his set with a Mercury Rev
Choeygal returned to the stage
with Glass to perform a Tibetan song, “Snow Lion.”
Singing professionally since she
was 16 years old and now well into her 70s, song stylist Bettye LaVette finally
achieved national recognition in 2005. At the benefit concert, she
re-interpreted songs originally written and performed by Bob Dylan, George
Harrison, and Ray Charles.
Sandra Oh is a Canadian-American
actress best known for her roles on Grey’s
Anatomy and Killing Eve. Accompanied
by Philip Glass on piano, Oh read beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s “When the
Country singer-songwriter Margo
Price performed “Better Than Nothin'” for the first time. She was
backed by members of the Patti Smith Band and Smith’s son, Jackson Smith.
Iggy pop recited “We Are the
People,” which he derived from a poem written by Lou Reed in 1970. Laurie
Anderson backed his performance. Pop then removed his sports jacket to reveal
his bare chest and sang “I Wanna Be Your Dog”; the cello
accompaniment was perhaps the oddest arrangement ever of the Stooges standard.
The audience cheered when he writhed on the Carnegie Hall stage, threw his
microphone, and then lifted and tossed aside his microphone stand.
Accompanied by her band, Patti
Smith first paid tribute to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain with “About a Boy,”
her first performance of the song since 2014. She then reminisced about the
final days of Allen Ginsberg’s life, which inspired her next song, 1997’s “Don’t
Say Nothin’,” which she had not performed live since 2011. Smith closed
with her 1988 anthem, “People Have the Power,” a finale which brought
all the artists back on the stage.
After the two and a half-hour
concert, the performing artists and Tibet House supporters enjoyed a
post-concert gala at the nearby Ziegfeld Ballroom.
Laurie Anderson &
from Songs from the Bardo
Whiz (with Philip Glass)
Is the Time Coda
There Is Light in the Soul
on a String (with Phoebe Bridgers)
(Mercury Rev cover)
Lion (with Philip Glass)
Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan cover)
It a Pity (George Harrison cover)
Call It Love (Ray Charles cover)
the Light Appears (Allen Ginsberg poem, with Philip Glass)