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- Hackney Ocean, Hackney »
- Patti Smith »
‘’I like Hackney. I’m here, ain’t I?’’
Indeed, the * Hackney Ocean is nice*. It’s not a strictly rock & roll venue, it’s a little bit more upscale than that (and it’s all new and shiny). Ask for water and you get it with ice, a black straw, and lime. Class-ay. The glass is plastic, but nevertheless. What, me such a culture-free moron that I’m impressed by some ice and a lime?
There’s no support tonight, it’s all about Patti, who compensates by playing for nearly two and a half hours. Patti herself looks fantastic, looking no different than she did in ’75, still skinny and long-limbed, dressed in boots, jeans, a yellow t-shirt and a loose blue jacket. Lenny Kaye, her original guitarist and Jay Dee Daugherty her original drummer are also here tonight. Lenny Kaye inparticular could still out NY The Strokes. Without shades. The rest of the band was equally cool, and clearly chosen in part for their dress sense.
She opens with a rocked-up version of *The Byrds *‘’So You Wanna be a Rock & Roll Star’’, which makes for a pretty accurate statement of intent, even if that goal was achieved long ago.
Throughout the night she seems relaxed and happy, dancing, striking poses and joking with members of the audience. She even treats us to a little poetry reading (William Blake, if you’re interested).
Despite the fact that the albums released since coming out of retirement in the mid-90’s following the death of her husband have not been met with quite the rabid acclaim of yesteryear, tonight is not a greatest hits show. Sure, there’s Redondo Beach, Because the Night and a host of others, but the set is split about evenly between her 70’s period and the current stuff (she only plays about two songs off Horses).
Birdland is an early high-light. A 9 minute, freeform tale of alien abduction is amazing tonight. Patti’s hypnotic, beat-influenced lyrics are complemented perfectly by the swirling, sympathetic backing. Summer Cannibals is another stand-out, rocking a lot harder than on album, and Dancing Barefoot (complete with barefoot dancing) is beautiful. Even People Have the Power is pretty cool.
Even though Patti Smith isn’t among my favourite artists (I like her a lot, but she’s not in the top 10), this was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. The lack of ego, the power and ferocity, the sheer unadulterated charisma and intelligence of the woman.
While a lot of her contemporaries are content to peddle passionless recitations of their hits, she still plays with the relish and enthusiasm of someone much younger, combined with the relaxedness and showmanship learned from years of playing.
They close with an apocalyptic 15 minute rendition of_ Rock & Roll Nigger, complete with Babelogue. After about 7 minutes, they abandon the lyrics altogether and commence to make noise while images of a nuclear explosion over a city are projected onto the video screen behind them. After pulling all the strings off her guitar and leaving it to feedback, Patti launches into a diatribe against commercialism: _‘’We have to bring big business to its knees. It’s Fight Club man!’’ And while *big business & commercialism=bad *will not reach this year’s top 10 of inventive and original political rhetoric, in the context of the song and the moment it really is inspiring.
At last, the song ends, they unplug their instruments, wave and depart, and she can still cut it. God yeah.
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