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Tibet House US – 35th Annual Benefit Concert Live Stream On Mandolin, Thursday, March 3rd, 2022, Reviewed

She was dreaming in her dreaming… twice. In celebration of Philip Glass’ 85th birthday and the 35th Annual Tibet House Benefit Concert, and nowhere near its home away from home every year (except this and last year), Carnegie Hall. The 2020 benefit happened just before Covid hit (my review here), last year was during the heart of covid (here), and this year could have easily been performed live at Carnegie in theory, but it wasn’t, so there.

So we are watching it on Mandolin again, and they have it slightly better than 2021 since, among other things, we no longer have those zoom multi screens since folks are in the same room. And we have Patti Smith performing “People Have The Power” twice, once acoustic and once at the end of the somewhat short performance, coming in at less than two and a half hour for an evening that can run to three hours and a half. With a “We Stand In Support Of The Ukrainian People” at the start and finish drawing a straight line between Russia’s attack on the Ukraine and China ever watchful to see if this is the moment they take a bite out of Tibet, and the end of the world.

The problem with the Tibet House performances is that you need a taste for Tibetan music and there is something about the chanting that doesn’t do it. Philip Glass streams a commercial for his three concerts in celebration of his 85th, Wasfia Nazreen, the mountain climber speaks, Bob Thurman speaks, are we off yet? Nope, the Drepung Gomang Monks chant and now? Patti reads a poem for the Ukraine (I know), one of her three performances throughout the night. Are we there yet? Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, 40 minutes in and the West has yet to rear its ugly head. When it does its The Punch Brothers with an excellent “Angel Of Doubt” and a not excellent “Three Dots And A Dash” from their 2018 album, it was great to see Eleanor Friedberger and her brother Matt, the Fiery Furnaces, in superb form -a highlight of the entire evening, the Queen of Afrobeats Angelique Kidjo going local with Philip’s “Symphony no. 12: 5th Movement”, Bernard Brecht (those were the days, right?) with some kind words, Tenzin returns with the small chamber Orchestra from Queensland, Gogol Bordello gets his Billy Bragg on, Nathaniel Rateliff does his typical soul turn, Margo Price, who is highly admirable but needs to be seen live to be truly appreciated, performs Dylan’s “Tears Of Rage” a capella, Trey Anastasio plays a mean acoustic guitar though his songs still suck, another highlight of the evening is Patti performing her gorgeous “Peaceable Kingdom” off Trampin’, a song that had completely slipped my memory but is a hidden gem, it is a suckers game to be mean to Patti’s daughter Jesse Paris Smith so I won’t, on the other hand, whatever happened to Jason Isbell? The one time I met J (his close personal friends call him J) he was a delight, but somewhere in the past five years ke became way too self-important, “Only Children” is yet another shut up and pay attention moment, Cyndi Lauper looked great all dressed in white with “True Colors”.

The evening ends with the Patti Smith Band rocking “People Have The Power”but the penultimate moment of the evening, the reason to move heaven and earth to watch it, was Keanu Reeve’s performance of “Pull My Daisy”. According to Wikipedia: “”Pull My Daisy” is a poem by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. It was written in the late 1940s in a similar way to the Surrealist “exquisite corpse” game, with one person writing the first line, the other writing the second, and so on sequentially with each person only being shown the line before.” That it is so great is mind boggling and Keanu is mesmerizing, showing his entire charm and stardom vibe, heading his head of steam and raising his voice and the tempo. I would claim “Pull My Daisy” is a sex poem by a gay man and his obsessions -the kings of the road, the top of the beatniks: “Pull my daisy/tip my cup/all my doors are open“. When you see Keanu on talk shows he tones down his skill set, and when you see him in movies he turns down his charm so he can act freely, but here he let’s everything go. Sadly, I can’t find a video of the performance, but you should look for it.

And that’s it till next year, where we discover whether we are still alive after the nuclear showdown with Russia…

Grade: B

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