Watch Lou Reed and Pete Townshend deliver a stripped-back rendition of ‘Pale Blue Eyes’
Sometimes the most beautiful performances can come from the relationship between two different ends of the rock spectrum. This performance sees two powerhouses of the sixties come together to deliver a beautiful rendition of a classic tune. It sees The Who’s Pete Townshend join the late, great, Velvet Underground maestro Lou Reed perform together in unison.
Not just any track, either. The duo takes on the Velvet Underground’s perfect alt-pop gem ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, performing a beautifully stripped-back rendition of the song. It’s a track that lives long as one of Lou Reed’s finest compositions and sees Townshend move away from his Who guitar-thrashing to help out on the acoustic number.
As a musician, the first time you play a song with someone can be a nerve-wracking thing to do, especially if you’re both about to play a song you wrote. However, we’d assume those tensions ease a little when the performer asking you to join them on stage is part of legendary rockers, The Who.
That was the prospect Lou Reed faced when being asked by guitar legend Pete Townshend to perform a stripped-back cover in 2007. The guitarist was using his downtime from The Who’s Endless Wire to get back in touch with music. Prior to that moment, he had spent so much time churning out the greatest hits for The Who’s fans that there was a need to reconnect with the purity of music once again. He did so by, alongside his girlfriend Rachel Fuller, holding a series of intimate shows.
The shows were conducted while Townshend was on downtime from the tour and so offered up a variety of different performances. There are memorable moments from his time with a young Adele, performing with Jack White, as well as the Flaming Lips. Perhaps the most memorable moment from the sessions, however, came when he and Lou Reed took on the Velvet Underground classic. It was part of a three-song set at the famous Joe’s Pub venue in New York and sees two icons of the sixties that had very different journeys to their status. While Townshend uses The Who as a springboard for his ideas to this day, Lou Reed left his band and went solo, struggling for commercial success before he found icon status. But together, on this stage, they pay homage to the latter’s songwriting talent.
Watch Pete Townshend and Lou Reed perform Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, below.