#Cultissime 29 January 1972: The Velvet Underground reunion at the Bataclan

28 January 2022

Crédit Photo : Christian Rose/Dalle

It was 50 years ago… the teams of the TV show “Pop 2”, a must-see music magazine for rock and pop fans, captured a mythical moment in music history: Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico, reunited on stage at Le Bataclan for the first time since the band split up.


Resurrecting the soul of the Velvet Underground, for one night…

With only four albums released between 1967 and 1970 and mixed public and critical success at the beginning, the Velvet Underground‘s meteoric career was nonetheless dazzling, transgressive and revolutionary. But by January 1972, the Velvet Underground seems to be a distant memory. John Cale had been kicked out of the band in 1968, and in 1970, it is Moe Tucker and Lou Reed who leave the group. But this was without counting on the teams of the Bataclan and the program “Pop 2”, presented by Patrice Blanc-Francard and directed by Claude Ventura, who organised a semi-impromptu reunion between three of the members of the group for a unique acoustic concert.

Crédit Photo : Guy Ferrandis/Dalle

Crédit Photo : Guy Ferrandis/Dalle


On Saturday 29 January 1972, on the Bataclan stage, Lou, John and Nico played 14 songs, from the Velvet Underground or from their solo repertoire. We will hear “Heroin“, “Femme Fatale“, “All Tomorrow’s Parties“, “I’ll Be Your Mirror“, taken from the famous “banana album”, the band’s first album produced by Andy Warhol (who really launched the band), which already marked a kind of revolution in rock music: mixing lyrics inspired by the writers of the Beat Generation (William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg,…), as a testimony of the nocturnal and marginal New-York, and dark melodies with forefront sounds.


But it was also on this occasion that the public discovered “Berlin“, a song that Lou Reed has just composed and that would appear the following year on the opening track of his album of the same name, which he performed at the Bataclan in a most touching, bare version…


There’s a whole halo of mystery surrounds the history of the Velvet Underground, and this concert is definitely part of it… From this acoustic session a live album, Bataclan ’72, released in 2004:



The Velvet Underground’s first album may have sold only a few thousand copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.

Brian Eno

That’s how Brian Eno summed up the influence that the Velvet Underground had on a whole generation of artists in the 1980s, whether through their forefront music, their sulphurous attitude, or their integration of art and poetry into their musical projects. And in 2022, the mythical band seems to have lost none of its aura, as shown by the recent release of a tribute album and a documentary by Todd Haynes.


The Velvet Underground – Todd Haynes (2021)

This documentary available on Apple TV+ is a dive into the heart of the bubbling New York art scene of the 1960s, orchestrated by Andy Warhol in his Factory, of which the Velvet Underground was the musical culmination… From the formation of the group to its dislocation, the documentary mixes archive footage and testimonies of John Cale, Maureen Tucker and various people close to the group…


I’ll Be Your Mirror, A tribute To The Velvet Underground & Nico (2021) (Verve / Universal)

Kurt Vile, Fontaines D.C., Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Matt Berninger (The National), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Courtney Barnett,… these are all Velvet kids who appear on this tribute album!


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