Death loomed large at the Philip Glass–curated benefit concert for Tibet House U.S. Monday night at Carnegie Hall, when a parade of legendary talents — among them Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and Michael Stipe — performed numbers in honor of deceased friends. And as if that weren't depressing enough, when the thrilling succession of reimagined hits and covers stopped, we suddenly realized that all our idols onstage talking about death will die, too. Oh, God.
There were chanting monks, a beautiful, minimalist set from Sigur Rós, and Ben Harper. Debbie Harry happily danced to an acoustic version of "Heart of Glass." And then came Lou Reed, the first to sing about getting old. Ray Davies harkened back to the Kinks' glory days, getting the crowd to sing along with "Lola," "Sunday Afternoon," and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion." He admitted to being foggy about why, exactly, he was there: "This is a great event. I'm not sure of all the details, but the spirit moved me." And then he, too, got wistful about age. "Being in a band at this point in my life is a separation anxiety of the worst sort," he said. "We never know when we'll meet again."