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Published: 2009/02/06

‘People Have The Power’ at Tibet House Benefit

This past Tuesday, The Tibet House hosted its 19th annual benefit concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Tibet House co-founder Phillip Glass once again served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies, introducing a number of the evening’s performers, while still keeping the benefit’s theme tightly focused on the political situations facing Tibet. After the show’s annual invocation by a group of Tibetan monks, Anitbalas opened the evening with a tribute to Fela Kuti that found Sahr Ngaujah—-who played the famed afro-beat leader alongside Antibalas in the recent off-Broadway musical Fela!—- subbing for singer Amayo. Soon after, Angelique Kidjo, a past Antibalas collaborator and singing maverick in her own right, joined the group for an energetic cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ and her own ‘Emma.’ Antibalas then left the stage, but were quickly replaced by Keb Mo, who joined Kidjo for a engaging duet.
President of the Tibet House—-and Uma’s dad—-Robert Thurman then took the stage for a few remarks which accented the evening’s family ties (Tibet House mainstays Glass and Patti Smith both performed with their children at various points in the evening). Glass’ son Zack then played guitar on a pair of acoustic selection with the Patti Smith Group, including his The Days of Innocence’ (Phillip Glass also sat in during the segment for his first formal performance with his son). Current indie-sensations Vampire Weekend followed with a new selection for their forthcoming album, along with as well as the string-laced ‘M79.’ Both selections featured also featured Glass on piano, as well as Antibalas’ Marcus Farrar and regular Antibalas contributor Yoshi Takamasa on percussion. The evening’s mood then quickly changed, as Glass performed a quiet instrumental composition called ‘Fae.’
Introspective indie-rockers The National played next, offering two new in-the-works compositions, before Tibetan guitarist Techung emerged for a pair of Eastern-leaning selections. The evening’s theme then swung firmly back West for performances by Patti Smith and her daughter Jesse, followed by Steve Earle and Keb Mo. The Patti Smith Group backed Earle on his second song and later returned to the stage for a tribute to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Big Bopper, who died 50 years earlier to the day in one of the most famous rock and roll tragedies. Patti Smith then rejoined her band for the evening’s climax of Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ and The Four Tops’ ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There.’ The evening’s entire ensemble then took the stage for the benefit’s traditional show-closing version of Smith’s ‘People Have the Power.’

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