I just came from seeing Patti Smith at the Crystal Ballroom, and I gotta say - she rocks! I'm not completely familiar with Patti's music (I admit, the only album I own currently is "Horses"), but I knew enough that I was willing to pay $25 to see this legend, and she didn't disappoint. (Before criticizing the ticket price, remember this is a fucking rock legend I'm talking about, and she could easily charge 2 or 3 times that much and get away with it.) |
Patti's almost 60 years old, but she has more energy and more intensity than I've seen in a performer for a long time. It was one of the best shows I've seen in my life, and I've been to a lot of shows. If you aren't familiar with her, I suggest you go out and get "Horses" just for starters and see where she takes you from there. If you aren't interested in her music, her poetry and her politics are equally right-on.
Her whole set was astounding, and she played for about 2 hours. She worked the stage like no other performer I've ever seen, and was obviously extremely comfortable in front of the crowd after playing concerts for so many years (decades!). The last song before the encore was "People Have The Power," ("I believe everything we dream / can come to pass through our union / we can turn the world around / we can turn the earth's revolution / we have the power / people have the power") and she pumped up the whole crowd by reminding us that we can only change the world by coming together, while images of the WTO protests played in the background.
But the best was the last song - "Rock n Roll Nigger". Like I said, I don't know all of Patti's music (or even a fraction of it), but I imagine that this song created quite a controversy when it first came out ("Outside of society, they're waitin' for me / Outside of society, if you're looking / that's where you'll find me"). She really let it rip - singing, screaming with crazy intensity - "We are all niggers! We are all outsiders!" She railed against corporations, advertising, government, and everything I and the rest of audience detest. She talked/sang about how we have lost our spiritually and we need to regain it, and take back our lives from corporate control.
At one point, someone in the audience yelled, "Patti for president!" She smiled, and said the first thing she would do if she was president was make Ralph Nader president. Then, she said she would give everyone a handful of seeds and clean water, and have everyone plant trees - apple trees, peach trees, every kind of tree, and then we would all be happy. She also dedicated one of her songs to Roberto Clemente, the baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates who was killed in a plane crash on New Year's Eve in 1972 while delivering aid to the earthquake-striken people of Nicaragua.
Patti is not only a singer, but a poet as well. Although I've never read any of her books, twice during the show she read directly out of her writings and it was incredible. She is truly a performance artist in the best sense of the word. To see her is really an intense, eye-opening experience, and I encourage everyone to check her out if you don't already know her music, her poetry, or her politics.
Lyrics to Patti Smith songs