Belfast Telegraph

Lou Reed: The joy of seeing my hero play in Belfast

By Colin O'Carroll

A chance encounter with a crossword-loving U2 roadie called Jake led to the fulfilment of a lifelong dream – seeing the god-like but very human Lou Reed of Velvet Underground legend live.

I happened to be in Belfast in 1987 after coming over from Melbourne to visit relatives and was sitting in the Crown Bar one Friday afternoon soaking up the atmosphere and the Guinness.

The ambience was being disturbed – or added to, depending on your view – by a crowd of very lively Americans taking up several snugs and communicating with each other by standing on the seats and shouting over the partitions.

The man sitting opposite me was patiently filling in the Belfast Telegraph crossword and explained that they were the road crew for U2, who were in town as part of the Joshua Tree Tour.

I happened to mention that my then girlfriend was a major fan, as was I at that time, but that even more I'd like to see Lou Reed – who, unbelievably, was the support act at the King's Hall gig.

We started to chat and he shared a few crossword clues before he revealed in his quiet Dublin brogue that he was in fact their boss.

As he left, he thanked me for the company and the chat and told me to be at the King's Hall on Saturday night where two VIP tickets would be waiting.

I stammered my thanks and got straight on the phone to my girlfriend.

Sure enough, the next night two tickets right up the front were waiting and as soon as the unmistakable riff from Sweet Jane thundered out I was on my feet, to the bemusement of some of the younger U2 fans around us to whom Lou Reed was something of an unknown.

To me this was the voice of a thousand teenage darkened, angst-ridden bedroom music sessions.

The man himself was urbane, acerbic and also showed he knew how to rock it out.

It was all over in a blur and we floated away, debating who had topped the bill in our view.

Now the satellite's gone up to the sky, but for me the coloured girls are still going doo-de-doo, doo-doo-de-de-doo...

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