Poster signed by John and Sterling followed by a newpaper article for impending John Cale show on 12/05/92, (with Soldier Quartet), at Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, New York University , New York, NY.
New York Times
Pop and Jazz in Review
By ANN POWERS
Published: December 10, 1992
John Cale Eisner and Lubin Auditorium New York University
In another era he might have been called a generalist with a penchant for elegance and esoterica. But these days people are expected to settle into narrower cubbyholes, so John Cale is viewed as a rocker with pretentious leanings. Since co-founding the Velvet Underground in 1963, Mr. Cale has never quite settled into a comfortable spot, either artistically or commercially, but he has gained a tenacious cult following happy to accompany him on his musical wanderings.
On Saturday evening, Mr. Cale performed solo and with the Soldier Quartet and Sterling Morrison, the Velvet Underground's bassist. Mr. Cale has performed nearly the same set for years, often without inspiration. But he has finally discovered a way to refresh his own familiar melodies, and his renditions of chestnuts like "Guts," "Buffalo Ballet" and "The Chinese Envoy" reached the songs' essential beauty, built of wonder, playfulness and sorrow's calm.
Starting with three songs based on Dylan Thomas poems, he worked through material from all phases of his career. The influence of Tin Pan Alley and the British music hall on Mr. Cale was never clearer; as he banged out a boogie-woogie piano beat and crooned in his patented world-weary way, he seemed like an eccentric cousin of Cole Porter's. Mr. Cale's rock side emerged when he picked up an acoustic guitar and bashed through "The Ballad of Cable Hogue" as if he were thinking of a young Bob Dylan. Mr. Morrison and the Soldier String Quartet added horror-movie color to his trademark performance of "Heartbreak Hotel."
The evening's biggest treat came at the first encore, when Lou Reed strode onstage in suburban casuals, guitar strapped to his chest. Mr. Cale, Mr. Reed and Mr. Morrison launched into "Style It Takes," from "Songs for Drella," the 1990 Reed-Cale tribute to Andy Warhol. Only the crucial absence of the drummer Maureen Tucker kept this from being a Velvet Underground reunion. Mr. Reed's aggressive playing dominated the proceedings, but the three men did listen to one another, building a fractured reflection of the foundational Velvet sound. The trio continued with Mr. Cale's song "Forever Changed." Then Mr. Reed left the stage and the history-making was over for the night.
Mr. Cale returned with everyone but Mr. Reed, including the show's opening act, the talented experimental guitarist Michael Brook, for a rather anticlimactic rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Then he returned alone to perform two of his most poignant ballads, "The Thoughtless Kind" and "Close Watch." As he sang of love lost and friendship restored, his appropriate role became obvious. He is avant-garde pop's great sentimentalist, relaying simple truths through lovely melodies. As corny as it makes him seem sometimes, it's an honorable position.