This was the third time I've seen Patti Smith, and both of the other times I marveled at what a natural rock hero she was, and tonight did not change that impression.
The show was sold out and people were fired up when she started at 9:00 with no opening act (hooray!). Her crowd is fairly "across the board" with a smattering of everything represented, with the one thing in common a love for Patti Smith.
Her band included a guitar player who the crowd seemed to know (an old Patti sidekick, perhaps?), a bass player, a drummer and a 2nd guitar player who was solid on leads and also played keyboads.
I don't know her material really at all; I've always known about her and saw her on a whim a number of years ago and LOVED her live presence and sound, but the only record I know is a live version of Horses with some other hits included.
She opened with a couple of songs I recognized then she played many I did not. It was all good rock and the band was right on, but the sound just wasn't very loud, which is odd because that's not usually a problem at the Fillmore, but it was noticable from the beginning and it hurt the punch of things for me.
After about 45 minutes I started to think that it all sounded a bit too smooth, almost like an old Jackson Browne type sound (when his band was good, with David Lindley). It was rockin' but it didn't ROCK!
I began to get tired and was actually thinking about possibly bailing early, but Patti herself was just too good and it kept me there, which turned out to be a VERY wise decision.
Patti Smith has got to be right at the top of the list of not only coolest WOMAN rocker ever, but just coolest ROCKER ever. She just has that natural presence about her that makes it impossible to take your eyes off her, and her voice is simply rock classic; raw, heavy and REAL, and after all these years it still sounds GREAT!
So after about an hour, when I was thinking this show was just going to be good but not great, she went into this rambling story about.... well I'm not sure what it was about, but it had something to do with hallucinating and then she went into White Rabbit.
This might have seemed contrived at the Fillmore, where the song was played so many times 40 years ago, except that when Patti Smith covers a tune it immediately has validity, and she did the song true justice, giving it an edge. It was really good, and right about then the sound got louder and the show got much better.
She then did a GREAT version of Soul Kitchen, which is such a great song. The Doors version is classic and X does an amazing version as well, but this one again had Patti's classic voice and style; it was simply a home run.
At one point during that song I looked over to the bar and could see Patti's reflection in the mirror right next to the reflection of Jim Morrisons picture. Very cool. The sound, the band, the crowd, the past and the present all came together and the quality of the show went up about five notches.
From there she played a song I recognized well but don't know, I think Bruce Springsteen does it too (something with "because the night belongs to lovers") and it was great, then she did a version of Smells Like Teen Spirit which was OK (again, her singing made it work) but at the end she did a GREAT poetic rap that just ripped!
Then of course she closed her set with what I consider personally to be the best version of Gloria that anyone has ever done. Patti Smith just ROCKS that song and she did an amazing version last night. THAT was worth the price of admission right there!
She played a couple of encores (yes a Stones cover was in there) to make the show a little over two hours.
I saw a couple of comments made about how many covers she is playing, but then I see that she has a cover album out so that makes sense, but even if she didn't I wouldn't have a problem with her doing covers, as her voice is so real and her interpretations always seem to work.
And that's the thing with Patti Smith; she is REAL. And she is a TRUE rocker. I was thinking about Iggy Pop during the show and I thought that with all of Iggys historonics and showmanship, he really has very little on Smith, who is just pure.
So to wrap this up, I'm REALLY glad I chose to stay to the end, because on this night the first half of the show was just OK but the last half was OUTSTANDING rock 'n roll, true to the core.
i would hazzard a guess that the guitar player, that the crowd seemed to know was. tom verlaine of the band television. he has been playing with patti on/off for years and tours with her. the rest of her band is generally, lenny kaye , gtr, tony shannahan on bass, and jay dee daugherty, drums
btw if you are unfamiliar with television, the seminal lp was "marquee moon" and its a must own imo
Nice review Lance!
Yeah, Tom Verlaine is who I instantly thought of when reading your review. I'll second Ed's recommendation of Marquee Moon.
Sounds like a great show.
Very cool review, Lance! Rock and roll!!!
Glad you hung in there Lance, sounds like it was worth it! I loved your description of seeing Patti's reflection in the bar mirror contrasted with a picture of the Lizard King hanging nearby during "Soul Kitchen". It's shared personal moments like this that make the show reviews such a crucial component of the Philzone!
The tune you thought you sort of recognized is called "Because The Night", and is on her "Easter" album from 1978. Springsteen wrote it, Patti revised the lyrics, and they share a composition credit on it. The Boss plays it every once in a blue moon in his live sets.
Thanks for the excellent review Lance, it transported me right to the Fillmore!
I am pretty sure it's Lenny Kaye..HE has been with her for yrs as the ax man
Pattie is a goddess
Shit, I would have gone just to hear Tom Verlaine. His sound is so unique, perfectly matched to Patti Smith's vocals. Damn
>>>>HE has been with her for yrs as the ax man
I think he is an original member of the PS Group.
My roomate brought him home one night. She calls out to our other roomate, "Hey, where are you, you won't believe who is here......" He yells "WELL I'M TAKING A SHIT!!!". Then a couple minutes later pops out to meet one of his heros. "Hi I'm Clint and I just took a shit."
I saw PS the week after Garcia died. She dedicated Dylan's Dark Eyes to him. It was very sniffle-worthy.
Lenny Kaye at one time was the Patti Smith band as he started accompanying her on guitar at her poetry readings in New York in the early 70's. They then added a keyboardist and then went to a full blown band before she signed with CBS. Lenny Kaye was himself a succesful rock journalist and was executive producer of the seminal garage rock compilation Nuggets as well as producing albums for Soul Asylum(Hang Time and The Horse They Rode In On) and other indie-alterna rock bands.