PATTI SMITH -GLASGOW ABC

Patti Smith- Glasgow  02ABC September 5th 2012-09-06

 

 Ever since Patti Smith exploded into the publics consciousness in the desolate wasteland of the rock landscape of the mid-seventies- twenty minute solos were de rigeur for a corpulent beast that was disappearing up its own progressive arse-with her astounding debut Horses she has combined different elements of the arts but never lost the rock and roll spirit which drives her even to this day. Detractors included Johnny Rotten who despising her poetic ambitions typically and snidely declaimed her act, in reference to her album, as ‘horseshit’. She has managed to see them all off however with an energy which is undiminished even now nearly forty years later by combining that energy with talent, sensitivity, integrity and a sense of total abandon all merging into a fantastic cohesive whole.

Taking to the stage with her trusty band and loyal sidekick Lenny Kaye, who has performed with her since her earliest poetry readings and live performances, it is a quick smile and wave before she launches into ‘Dancing Barefoot’ and then we are off on a two hour journey into the world of Patti Smith. A quick anecdote about Tom Verlaine and UFO’s follows the opener as an introduction to Radio Ethiopia’s ‘Distant Fingers’ which shows that she still has the ability to alternately reach inside herself to pull out something primal whilst using soothing tones-conjuring up memories of lullabies- which almost cradle. The band is as tight as ever and the sound mixing is stunning as every syllable and nuance of her diction-very important with Patti Smith- can be heard by the audience.

The material was drawn from various stages of her career and was surprisingly Horses-lite –only the barnstorming ‘Gloria’, which was G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S., remained from that seminal opus- but in no way did this detract from the show. Instead Smith may have re-ignited her audience to some of the great songs which languish almost unrecognized on her other albums. The new material from this year’s Banga, April Fool, Fuji- San, Maria and the title track, all transferred well to live performance. The birthday gift to Johnny Depp ‘Nine’ however took on a life of its own and provided a set highlight as Smith held the audience in her thrall  transfixing us all whilst we stood mesmerised.

Other highlights were the sensurround wall of sound ‘Southern Cross’, an intense ‘Pissing in a River’, a sensual and poptastic ‘Because the Night’, a stripped back ‘Ghost Dance’ a spaced out ‘Ain’t it Strange’ and the evocative introspection of ‘Peaceable Kingdom’.

The best was saved for the encore however as after a perfunctory ‘ People Have the Power’ –never one of my favourites, feeling more like the product of a brainstorming session to create an anthem- she screams the opening lines ‘I haven’t fucked much with the past but I’ve fucked plenty with the future’ to ‘Babelogue’ as the strains of ‘Rock and Roll Nigger’ threaten to raise the roof of the ABC and within seconds the whole place is a jumping, seething hotbed of  untamed visceral energy. Finishing with Smith tearing the strings of her electric guitar like some avenging angel in a bag lady version of high priestess garb launching arrows of love into her adoring hordes it was a fitting close to a two hour show of intensity and untrammelled pleasures.

Outside in the street afterwards the mantra of the closing number still hung heavy in the air like a clarion call bathed in electricity ‘Outside of society that’s where I want to be!’ and for one hopeful moment it  felt as if we really were.

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