Watch Live Performances Of Each Song On The Velvet Underground’s Album ‘Loaded’

Watch all eight songs performed live by Lou Reed, Phish, Wilco, My Morning Jacket and others.

By Andy Kahn Nov 15, 2023 7:45 am PST

The Velvet Underground’s album Loaded was released 53 years ago today. It was the final album Lou Reed recorded as a member of The Velvet Underground, which he co-founded in New York City in 1964 with guitarist Sterling Morrison, multi-instrumentalist John Cale and Angus MacLise whose tenure lasted only until 1965 when Moe Tucker replaced him on drums.

The original lineup, with German vocalist Nico, released the band’s debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967. They followed that record (sans Nico) with 1968’s White Light/White Heat. Cale departed before the third The Velvet Underground album, the 1969 self-titled LP, which was the first to include multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule.

Reed, Morrison and Yule were responsible for recording Loaded, which was released on November 15, 1970 by Cotillion Records. Tucker was on maternity leave, so Yule played drums on the eight tracks that made up Loaded. Yule also sang lead on half of the songs, “Who Loves the Sun,” “New Age,” “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” and “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’.”

Loaded didn’t have Maureen on it, and that’s a lot of people’s favorite Velvet Underground record,” Reed told David Fricke in liner notes interview. “So we can’t get too lost in the mystique of The Velvet Underground… It’s still called a Velvet Underground record. But what it really is, is something else.”

Loadedwas done in New York and we were all living separately,” Yule told Uncut in 2014. “Loaded was focused and commercial and the manager [Steve Sesnick] wanted to have more FM play. He convinced me to think more commercially and so we started out softly, like you can hear on The Matrix tapes. We then wound up with Loaded being recorded with very FM oriented stuff like ‘Who Loves The Sun,’ ‘Head Held High’ and ‘Sweet Jane.’”

Reed left the band he co-founded before Loaded was mixed. In 1973, Yule released an album entitled Squeeze that was credited to The Velvet Underground, though none of the other members of the band contributed to the record. After Reed established a successful solo career, he continued to perform several of the songs on Loaded live in concert.

Many other musicians have drawn from Loaded for their live setlists. Below are videos of each of the eight songs on Loaded performed live over the years by a wide range of artists.

Who Loves The Sun | Wilco

In 2013, Wilco played a special all-covers set at their Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts. Among the many covers performed that night was the opening track off Loaded, “Who Loves The Sun,” which can be viewed above.

Geoff Tweety
Wilco (See 127 videos)

Sweet Jane | Lou Reed & Soul Asylum

An all-star concert was held on September 2, 1995 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in celebration of the opening of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Museum the day before. While The Velvet Underground would have to wait until 1996 to be inducted into the Rock Hall, Lou Reed was part of the concert in Cleveland in ’95. Backed by Minneapolis-based alt-rockers Soul Asylum, the video above features their collaborative rendition of “Sweet Jane” from the historic event.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (See 279 videos)
Soul Asylum (See 13 videos) and Lou Reed (See 18 videos)

Rock & Roll | Kevin Morby

Singer-songwriter Kevin Morby has often cited Lou Reed and the VU as early influences. In the video above, Morby covers “Rock & Roll” with guest Sam Cohen during Morby’s show at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City in May 2017. The concert was part of Morby’s tour in support of City Music, which was itself heavily influenced by Reed.

The Culture Files
Kevin Morby (See 60 videos)

Cool It Down | Phish

“Rock & Roll” is the lone Loaded track that became a staple of Phish setlists after Vegas ’98. The band played “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” prior to their Halloween set, and continued playing it a few times after. “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” has been covered a few more times, and the same goes for “Sweet Jane.” “Who Loves the Sun,” “I Found a Reason” and “Head Held High” have each been played once more since Halloween ’98. Phish has covered “Cool It Down” on 11 other occasions since its debut in Vegas. The most recent was on April 19, 2023 at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California. Their performance of “Cool It Down” from December 1, 2019, can be seen above.

LazyLightning55a (See 924 videos)
Phish (See 4,019 videos)

New Age | Tori Amos

Singer-songwriter Tori Amos often weaves her arrangments of other people’s songs into her compelling live shows. The Loaded track “New Age” has long been part of Amos’ repertoire, dating back to at least 2001. The video above captures her solo rendition of “New Age” from a November 2014 concert at QPAC Concert Hall in Brisbane, Australia. Amos replicates an early version of “New Age” that was sung by Lou Reed with noticeably different lyrics than the version that appeared on Loaded.

Катерина Миняйло
Tori Amos (See 32 videos)

Head Held High | My Morning Jacket

My Morning Jacket has covered several songs off Loaded, including “Sweet Jane” and “Rock & Roll” each once, and “Oh Sweet Nuthin’” a few times. “Head Held High” has also made more than one MMJ setlist, though like the others, maintains rarity stature. The video of “Head Held High” above goes back to October 2010 and MMJ encore at Terminal 5 in New York City.

Jonse Gabriel
My Morning Jacket (See 137 videos)

Lonesome Cowboy Bill | Those Darlins

Nashville rockers Those Darlins sadly performed their final concert in 2016. The group went on hiatus at the time, while Jessi Zazu underwent treatment for cervical cancer. Zazu was only 28-years-old when she died in September 2017. The above video is of Those Darlins, with Zazu on lead vocals, covering “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” during a session for WNRN public radio at Virginia Arts Recording studio in Charlottesville, Virginia.

WNRN (See 14 videos)
Those Darlins (See 21 videos)

I Found a Reason | Angel Olsen & Patti Smith Band

Lou Reed, prior to his death in October 2013, participated in several Tibet House Benefit Concerts organized by Philip Glass and held annually in New York City. Reed’s friend and contemporary, Patti Smith, has been a fixture of the benefit concerts that each year bring together an all-star lineup of musicians at the historic Carnegie Hall. In 2018, the Tibet House Benefit Concert lineup included Smith and her band, along with singer-songwriter Angel Olsen and others. Olsen was backed by the Patti Smith Band on a rendition of “I Found A Reason,” which is captured in the above video.

Angel Olsen (See 42 videos)

Train Round the Bend | Hollis Brown

New York City-based Hollis Brown was part of an all-star tribute concert held in honor of Reed shortly after his death billed as “Last Great American Whale: A Concert in Memory of Lou Reed.” The event took place at New York City’s Bowery Electric and featured Hollis Brown covering all of Loaded, just as Phish had 15 years earlier. Hollis Brown went on to record a studio version of Loaded, which was issued as Get Loaded in 2014. Their version of “Train Round The Bend” can be seen in the video above from a show in Madrid, Spain that same year.

Hollis Brown (See 25 videos)

Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ | Black Crowes

One of the most widely covered songs on Loaded is the “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, the eighth and final track on the LP. Beginning in 2009, The Black Crowes joined those ranks when they added “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” to their setlists during sessions held before live audiences at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York, which later were released as the album, Before the Frost…Until the Freeze. Sung by guitarist Rich Robinson, watch The Crowes cover the Loaded closing track above.

Jim Powers (See 30 videos)
The Black Crowes (See 262 videos)

[Article updated from original published November 15, 2020.]

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