Rubloff Auditorium
The Art Institute of Chicago
Sunday 1/26/20

The Art Institute of Chicago certainly knows how to close out a major event, a major exhibition celebrating the works of Andy Warhol.
Why not close with John Cale, founding member of the Velvet Underground, a most revered rock experimentalist, as innovative (to the present day) as all get out.
To say this was a most magical evening at the beautiful Rubloff Auditorium would be an understatement.
You can’t help but feel the presence of Andy Warhol and the major retrospective “Andy Warhol- From A to B and Back Again”, and the importance of John Cale, and what he meant to not only the Velvet Underground, but also contributing with Warhol on many projects and installations, providing background music to amp up whatever party was coinciding with said projects.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall back in the mid to late sixties to witness firsthand the goings on.
So this Sunday’s performance marks a rare local appearance for John Cale, a man in his late seventies, who looks and walks kind of frail, showing some elegant wear and tear as he traipses to the stage.
But make no mistake- John Cale came to play tonight.
And what a mesmerizing show from beginning to end.
Think about this for a minute: his last performance was on January 10th at Rockaway Beach Festival, and then before that he played back in early November.
And John Cale sung, played guitar, dabbled on the keyboards like he’s been touring and performing daily, with nary an overlooked note or miscue.
Experimental to this day as all get out.
Opening with “Helen of Troy”, into “Dying on the Vine”, into “Leaving it up to You”.
Of course we heard “Style It Takes”, a song written with Lou Reed, and the ever elegantly cool “I’m Waiting for the Man”, a Velvet Underground song still sounding as fresh as way back when.
“Gun / Pablo Picasso”- still badass.
And closing with an encore: “Emily”.
18 songs in all, John performed with his cool band of experimentalists: guitarist Dustin Boyer, Deantoni on all manner of percussion and electronic percussion, and bassist Joey Maramba rounding out this splendid band.
John Cale, dressed in black, silver white hair, challenging everything, accentuating contrasts, constantly turning to his band for cues on diving further into songs and experimentation, with background projections to set the mood front and center and back again.
Daring, and taking risks to the present day- that epitomizes all that is John Cale.
Have to say that the song selections came off like fever dream renditions, demanding your attention, demanding your patience, satisfying you as an avid listener, constantly, again and again.
Thank you so much to the Art Institute of Chicago, a most revered institution as you can get.
You’ve outdone yourselves, and made this Chicago music photographer so happy, and grinning from ear to ear.
Cheers- Bobby Talamine – Music Photographer

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