Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Patti Smith @ Olympia, Paris - August 27th, 2019

Although I've had several opportunities over the years, I''d never seen Patti Smith in concert until last night. I've enjoyed some of her albums, but was only a passing fan. For some reason I thought her concert performances might be austere. I expected a reverent, serious, overly literate event... boy, was I wrong. Sure, she tackled some topical issues such as the Amazonian forest fires. And yes, there was poetry. But the main vibe of the show was FUN.

Cathartic, socially conscious fun. But fun nonetheless. I never realized how beloved a figure Patti Smith was in this country. This was her second sold-out show in the iconic theater in as many days and the crowd was just rabid, with the sort of reaction you’d expect at a young punk band’s club show. I was especially surprised to see so many young women in attendance.

As soon as she opened with People Have The Power, the crowd went wild and the energy never faltered after that. A heavy, intense cover of Jimi Hendrix’ Are You Experienced was one of the show’s highlights, as well as her rendition of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning.

Her own Birdland, Redondo Beach, Dancing Barefoot and Pissing In A River also earned a frantic reception, just like her cover of Neil Young's After The Gold Rush. And of course, the evening couldn't be complete with the hit song Bruce Springsteen wrote for her: Because The Night closed the set before an encore consisting of her legendary version of Gloria.

Enjoying this show means you have to suspend cynicism for an hour and a half. Some of the ecological messages and political rants may seem a little simplistic, naive even. The High Priestess of Punk is, in fact, a hippie. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it takes a high octane rock and roll show by a 72 year-old poet to remind us that people have the power.

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