Before Patti Smith performed her second sold-out show at the newly-renovated Webster Hall on May 2nd, her daughter, Jesse Smith, took to the stage to talk about the family’s Pathways to Paris organization, which is dedicated to making the Paris agreement a reality.
This care for the environment and social change would be a recurring subject at the concert with Smith, 72, proving that she hasn’t lost her punk edge when it comes to revolt. During more empowering moments, she brought up the fact that while we were currently in this space, it is our job once we step out, to make our voices heard.
In the crowd, people from Smith’s generation danced amongst teenagers clutching their well-loved copies of Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids, in the hopes that she’d sign it.
Smith appeared on stage looking like the definition of cool, sporting an oversized black blazer over a graphic tee and black jeans, and wearing her grey hair in its usual messy waves. She started her set off with uplifting track “April Fool,” followed by a riveting cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced.” This was the first of several covers she and her band would perform. Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye lent his vocals to two covers while Smith stepped offstage for a moment, first performing a fast-paced rendition of “The American in Me” by The Avengers, followed by a cover of Rolling Stones deep-cut “I’m Free.” The latter was interlaced with two verses of Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side," which initiated much crowd participation as "Doot, di-doot, di-doot..,” resonated through the hall.
Smith also performed several of her own classics, like “Redondo Beach,” “Dancing Barefoot,” “Pissing in a River” and “25th Floor,” which was not devoid of her impassioned spoken-word style of singing.
As the opening piano chords of Horses classic Gloria, someone in the crowd screamed out “I love you Patti!” “Stand in line,” she replied without missing a beat, before launching into the cover that made her a legend. As she spelled out G-L-O-R-IA, just for a moment, with eyes closed, it could have been 1976 in a punk club. Smith definitely hasn’t lost her haunting tone, which seems to have only gotten stronger as she’s grown wiser.
Smith finished off her show on an inspiring note, performing “People Have the Power” to send off her crowd into the world to initiate the change they want to see in the world.