Politics, punk and family on stage, Patti Smith still won’t do anything half way. With fresh banter and material, she graced the stage of Brighton Dome. Wednesday (10th September) saw the veteran of alternative music sell out the venue, for the final day of her UK tour.
The gig managed to feel intimate in the historical setting and it was all down to the lady herself. Patti Smith shared anecdotal stories about her love of Brighton and performed alongside her son, Jackson which was one of the only signs of her age.
She may be viewed as a key figure from the New York 70s punk movement but Patti Smith has the ability to weave nostalgia and of-the-now issues into her music and audience small talk. After an eight year wait from fans, her latest album Banga was released in June and they were out in force to celebrate her return to Brighton.
The show was kicked off with ‘Dancing Barefoot’ and telling the crowd she’s “glad to be back”. Her stories felt warm and genuine, amping-up the crowd’s response. This led on to ‘Redondo Beach’ from her seminal debut album Horses. Though, fans were treated to new hits, alongside the classics. ‘April Fool’ and ‘Fuji-san’ were performed from Banga with the likes of ‘Ghost Dance’ and ‘Pissing in a River’. Surprisingly the new tracks were well known and very well received by the audience but old classics got cheers from the opening chords, the universal sign of fandom.
Smith still refuses to shy away from the big political issues, to everyone’s delight which is refreshing compared with most young performers considered alternative nowadays. During the crowd-pleasing ‘Gloria’ she spells out “G-L-O-R-I-A” in the lyrics and continued by spelling “P-U-S-S-Y R-I-O-T” to raucous applause.
She also played ‘This Is The Girl’, a song dedicated to Amy Winehouse from her newest and eleventh studio album. She faltered and forgot some of the words during the track or as she put it “Sometimes the words become so abstract”. Smith pleasantly reasoned “I didn’t forget the words, they just got spirited away”. Anecdotes continued to be sprinkled in her repartee with stories like visiting Sylvia Plath’s grave during this UK tour and their hotel where mattresses are being replaced and no one seemed to have quite the right amount.
In the encore Smith returned to the subject of Pussy Riot, asking the crowd “Why should two girls be given two years in prison for uttering a prayer in a church where they should be protected?” The feminist group who have been dubbed the “new punk” seemed to gain the stamp of approval from one of the most iconic punk figures in history and it felt like everyone agreed.
The audience were attentive and energetic throughout the gig and Patti Smith seemed to fit right in, even flirting with the crowd giving them a sultry “Hello girls”. When a performer has such a history in music there’s a danger that every person will have one favourite that isn’t played, be bored by too much new material or see the same gig they saw five years previously. Fortunately Patti Smith delivered, playing an amazing live show and stunned with the continued quality of her vocals and lively dancing.