A solid half-century of pop and rock music converged onstage for the 31st annual Tibet House benefit concert at Carnegie Hall this past Saturday.
Hosted and curated as always by the maestro Philip Glass, who sat in on piano with several of the acts who performed over the course of the two-and-a-half-hour event, it was that intertwining of the generations that truly made this year’s show one to remember. Dev Hynes eschewed his Blood Orange persona to sit at the Steinway to deliver a stirring rendition of Nina Simone’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” before taking a noble stab at Glass’s “Etude #6”. Angel Olsen was a master at controlling that enormous atmosphere in the great hall, as nothing but the hiss off her amplifier accompanied the stark morphine blues of “White Fire” off her magnificent 2014 LP Burn Your Fire For No Witness.
Returning Tibet House concert champion Patti Smith took the stage shortly thereafter, praising the Parkland students for forcing the hand of their elders, while condemning the United States for trying to put the American embassy in Jerusalem, and leading her longtime group through a defiant rendition of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” and “Peaceable Kingdom” off her excellent, underrated 2004 LP Trampin’ with a little bit of “People Have The Power” thrown in at the end. Alabama’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones followed in Iggy Pop’s footsteps by shaking up the Carnegie Hall stage with an energetic, soulful set, along with likely the first time a shoe has ever been thrown across the Carnegie Hall stage — as singer Paul Janeway did during an impassioned rendition of the band’s own “Broken Bones & Pocket Change,” with Mr. Glass himself sitting in on piano.
Yet while much of the night was largely dominated by American artists, the presence of the international music community — especially that of Tibet — was as prominent as it has always been since the Tibet House concerts began in 1987. An octet of monks led the show with an opening prayer, followed by the young Mexican group Los Vega, whom Glass had discovered playing outside of his building, and who whipped up the crowd with a small but fiery set. Then there was Tibetan freedom folk singer Techung, whom Glass also supported on piano.
Assisting several of the artists on the night were the Scorchio Quartet, whose intuitive stringwork has been heard on such steallar modern releases as David Bowie’s Heathen and Linda Thompson’s Versatile Heart. They made a beautiful return engagement to the Tibet House concert by providing color and grandeur to a lovely rendition of “I Think I’ll Make Another World,” from Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir, during Stephin Merritt’s set, as well as to an intense version of the Glass composition “Etude #10,” with the composer at the piano and his longtime percussionist Mick Rossi on rhythms.
The Patti Smith Band also put in some serious overtime on the evening, backing up Olsen during her version of The Velvet Underground’s “I Found A Reason”, accompanying the brief set by second-generation artist Ben Taylor and — in some kind of dream booking scenario — Ben’s mother, legendary singer-songwriter Carly Simon. And if The Patti Smith Band fronted by Carly Simon wasn’t enough, they were joined by the Resistance Revival Chorus who — after making their way down the aisles of Carnegie Hall for a short set of their own — participated in a moving version of the pop icon’s 1988 hit “Let The River Run.”
At the after party in Gotham Hall, Glass expressed satisfaction over a seamless night, particularly its rousing grand finale. “We saw that coming,” Glass explained of the collaboration. “We actually rehearsed it for the first time yesterday. We had in mind to have the Chorus here, and we knew we were gonna have Carly, and to put them together — what a great ending.”
Bob Thurman Remarks
Philip Glass Remarks
Blood Orange/Dev Hynes
“Nobody’s Fault But Mine”
“I Found A Reason” w/ Patti Smith Band
“Wonder Where I’m From” w/ Sam Davol
“Josephine” w/ Sam Davol
“I Think I’ll Make Another World” w/ Sam Davol & Scorchio Quartet
“For What It’s Worth” w/ Patti Smith Band
“Peaceable Kingdom” w/ Patti Smith Band
St. Paul and the Broken Bones
“Flow With It”
“Broken Bones & Change” w/ Philip Glass
Reading w/ Philip Glass
“Gamp Lama” w/ Philip Glass
“Etude #10” w/ Mick Rossi & Scorchio Quartet
“Friday” w/ Sophie Hiller & Patti Smith Band
Resistance Revival Chorus
“Woke Up This Sunday Morning with My Mind Stayed On Freedom”
“Light In The Soul” w/ Scorchio Quartet
“Let the River Run” w/ Resistance Revival Chorus & Patti Smith Band