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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Flaming Lips, Michael Stipe, The Roots and Patti Smith Rock for Tibet

March 12, 2011

Stipe performs new track off 'Collapse Into Now'; Smith references
Wisconsin protests in her performance

By Patrick Doyle
Rolling Stones

MARCH 4, 2011 5:40 PM ET

When the Flaming Lips took the stage toward the end of the annual Tibet
House benefit show at Carnegie Hall last night, there were none of the
mirror balls or laser beams that typically end a Lips show – but the
band had a different surprise in store. After a stunning take on rarely
played Soft Bulletin track "Feeling You Disintegrate," frontman Wayne
Coyne invited composer Philip Glass to the stage's grand piano. "We've
been rehearsing with him all day," Coyne said. "And he's pretty fucking

The band kicked into a slow, hushed version of their classic "Do You
Realize?", Coyne strumming his acoustic guitar, the body of which was
connected to a green bubble. Late in the song, Glass took over with a
spiraling piano line that vaguely hinted at the Lips' melody while
guitarist Steven Drozd slowly added chilling touches of reverb. Coyne
looked visibly moved and stopped playing entirely, closed his eyes and
raised his fist, grinning.

"Playing with him is how playing with Syd Barrett must have been," Coyne
said after the performance, "Changing something just as you're catching
on. And that's exactly what you want."

This year marked the 61st anniversary of the 1950 Chinese invasion of
Tibet, and the benefit – which also featured Patti Smith, Michael Stipe,
Taj Mahal and the Roots – is in its 21st year. The show kicked off with
several Tibetan monks in robes chanting in front of a large painting of
the region's sprawling Potala Palace. The Roots were the first
performers to bring the entire audience to their feet when they were
joined by Angelique Kidjo for a rousing "Move on Up." Their peak was
their take on Neil Young's "Down by the River," a reprise from their
Carnegie appearance last month at a Young tribute show. Guitarist
Captain Kirk Douglas took center stage, wailing on his Gibson SG and
throwing in riffs of "Hey Joe" under Young's lyrics.

R.E.M. aren't touring off Collapse into Now (out March 8th), but Michael
Stipe looked thrilled to be onstage. He debuted two never-performed
R.E.M. songs: "Saturn Return," off 2008's Reveal, which he performed
standing behind the piano, and gorgeous new Collapsetrack "Everyday is
Yours to Win." He told the crowd he had only played the song in bassist
Mike Mills' living room in L.A. two weeks earlier, but it sounded like
an R.E.M. classic.

Last year, Iggy Pop made a scene stage diving into the relatively stiff
Carnegie crowd as Smith watched from the side of the stage. This year,
she gave the most aggressive performance, beginning with the
Youngbloods' "Get Together," which sounded like more of a plea than
ever, and then kicked into an apocalyptic take on Buddy Holly's "Not
Fade Away." Her band grooved on the raucous Bo Diddley beat while Smith
gave an impassioned speech that proved she's been glued to the news lately.

"In Cairo and Wisconsin…. the people are taking to the streets, taking
the power!" she yelled. She also cited recent mysterious incidents –
thousands of blackbirds falling from the sky and dead fish washing up in
Arkansas – saying, "Mother Nature is calling with such anguish. We must
find a way to show love, because if you don't show love for Mother
Nature, she will fucking take you down!"

At the after party at New York's Gotham Hall, Coyne clutched he scarves
he wore during his performance. He was still beaming from playing with
Glass. "There's a vulnerability to the song, and I think he knew that,"
Coyne said. "That vulnerability makes all the difference. That makes it
believable and makes it seem like anything can happen."
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