Opening the wings of a dove, crying through the roses, slipping up into the high art of Patti Smith – the audience melt at her presence. She is an altar, pay tribute to the visions and the beauty, the strength and the inspiration. She spits, penetrates the heart, weaves dreams, cuts your throat, drags you screaming into the street and crying out of the library. She dresses down and makes you look up, she conjures up images of torn out souls, artists dying for their art, blood splatter on the canvas, across the pages, between the strings of your guitar, covering the pick ups always finding the F-hole.
Shivers down the spine, splits in the skin, slow walks across the fields of poetry and literature, gorging on the viscera, drowning in the exhilaration, she rests on your lips, she swings on your hips, she stares into your desires, massages the brain, sets it alight.
Her voice a long drama, her screech and dark warble, raw vibrato. Surging musical undercurrents sit thick as treacle below her as she writhes over the top. She’s a ghost alive connected to the dead, sending messages to them, hearing messages from them. She’s a vessel, a humming in the distance approaching with a satchel full of papers, notebooks sitting in the Caffe Reggio in MacDougal Street in the East Village writing down her manifesto of insight and androgyny, spewing out desperate wisdom in passionate monologues.
On stage, she tries to lighten up her genius with humble humour, she never wanted hero worship, just a vehicle to express her interpretations of what she read, what she experienced, with whom she met. She read for us too – Allen Ginsberg’s poetry…”Everything is Holy!” Levelling the playing field connecting herself to you by making everything equal.
Through all this art there’s the hits: Because the Night, Dancing Barefoot, Frederick, Horses, Gloria, Birdland, People Have The Power – they are our hits, not everyone’s but they are ours. Pissing In A River is a surprise choice, Wing, Summer Cannibals and three songs for the lost – Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, Prince’s When Doves Cry and a song for Amy Winehouse written with angelic voiced, bassist and pianist Tony Shanahan. Her son Jackson is on guitar, Seb Rochford on drums. A different line-up just for a change, a way to approach the same thing from a different angle – what every artist needs even though the long serving Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Daugherty were missing, it’s only temporary.
A rousing version of Beneath The Southern Cross was a high point with the crowd springing to their feet…but it was like that all night, random people unable to contain their love for her, unable to hide what she means to them. She is power wrapped in silk, intelligence dancing in the avenues, slender boy’s hips in the body of a woman.
Meeting her briefly after the show, what do you say to Patti Smith except, thank you. Tony Shanahan and Seb Rochford as in awe as we are of this living icon that is Patti Smith. Best show I’ve seen for ages because it’s her. (I’m reading Just Kids).
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