Lou Reed, John Cale & Nico Reunite, Play Acoustic Velvet Underground Songs on French TV, 1972

By 1972, the Vel­vet Under­ground, arguably the most influ­en­tial cult band of all time, was effec­tive­ly dead, all of the orig­i­nal mem­bers hav­ing depart­ed the project. Reports of ani­mos­i­ty and ran­cor at the end may be exag­ger­at­ed; whether the ten­sions that split the band apart were pri­mar­i­ly inner or out­er hard­ly mat­ters at this point. But the still-per­form­ing mem­bers con­tin­ued to sup­port each oth­er in some fash­ion for the remain­der of their careers, and the band’s three singers even reunit­ed for a one-off acoustic con­cert in Paris of that year to per­form a set of clas­sic Vel­vet tracks as well as songs from their solo albums.

The audio of this reunion cir­cu­lat­ed for years as a boot­leg before its offi­cial release in 2004. Video of the con­cert at Le Bat­a­clan, orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast on French tele­vi­sion, pre­serves the evening, edit­ed into seg­ments and shuf­fling the orig­i­nal song order.

First, Lou Reed sings “Berlin” (top), a torch song he pur­port­ed­ly wrote about Nico (watch her look on as he sings). Reed calls it his “Bar­bara Streisand song.” Next, watch Cale and Reed do a ver­sion of “Wait­ing for My Man” (above).

You can watch a longer ver­sion of the con­cert broad­cast here, with per­for­mances from Reed, Cale, and Nico inter­cut with talky seg­ments between French jour­nal­ists. This con­cert, and the var­i­ous bootlegs and offi­cial live releas­es, may not be essen­tial lis­ten­ing for casu­al VU fans, but Philip Shelley’s com­ment on the live record­ings may apply equal­ly to the film: “if you appre­ci­ate the fleet­ing rev­e­la­tions to be found in snap­shots, then this may be just the bit of quick­sil­ver for you, a unique moment in musi­cal his­to­ry just before these three erst­while Jekylls became for­ev­er Hydes.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Sym­pho­ny of Sound (1966): Vel­vet Under­ground Impro­vis­es, Warhol Films It, Until the Cops Turn Up

Nico Sings “Chelsea Girls” in the Famous Chelsea Hotel

Rock and Roll Heart, 1998 Doc­u­men­tary Retraces the Remark­able Career of Lou Reed

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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