Patti Smith at the London Palladium – London Jazz News
(Higher Ground at London Palladium, July 24, 2022. Live review by Dan Paton)
The London public is often, perhaps unfairly, dismissed as reserved in their enthusiasm, but the ardor of tonight’s public cannot be confused with Patti Smith. They spend more time out of their seats than in them, even in royal and high circles. There’s uninhibited dancing, ecstatic screams and, at a bizarre moment, a young woman declaring from the Royal Circle that she had a letter to read for Smith, dropping it from the balcony and waving to those in the stalls from the pass to the stage. , which they do conscientiously. The atmosphere is initially feverish and finally festive.
Smith, for the most part, allows it to invade, maintaining a self-deprecating humor. When an audience member shouts that she’s a legend, she responds by saying she’s the most disheveled icon possible. She recognizes the skills of her tense and nuanced band and celebrates the important relationships in her life, but is never more animated than during passionate readings of Footnote To Howl by Allen Ginsburg and The Tyger by William Blake or during the celebration other people’s music. She accurately describes Neil Young’s environmental paen “After The Goldrush” as “prophetic” and notes how she saw something singular about Young watching Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in the early 70s.
Smith’s poetry readings use a regimented, repetitive rhythmic approach and maintain an impressive intensity. The combination of music, poetry and politics on display encapsulates Smith’s emphasis on ‘work’ as the core of what she does, the various artistic spaces in which she operates bound by commitment and dedication. to craftsmanship. It also reveals how Smith sees the world in both spiritual and human, sacred and secular terms. It celebrates bodies and desire, but also has a distinct ethos that celebrates ‘freedom’ and the role people can collectively play in challenging authority. His 1988 song “People Have The Power” serves as an encore here — and Smith also recently performed it at Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The set list deftly balances wise selections from Smith’s recent work with warhorses she’s played, seemingly with unwavering enthusiasm and commitment, for almost 50 years. The mysterious sailor song of ‘Nine’ and the legendary road song ‘My Blakean Year’ provide his band, which includes his son Jackson Smith (guitar and bass), Tony Shanahan (bass) and longtime members Jay Dee girl and guitarist Lenny Kaye, to explore more subtle textures and drifting sonic worlds. Smith’s band has excellent control of tone and dynamics, and Jackson Smith and Kaye play catchy, lyrical guitar solos. Kaye leads the group for a boisterous romp through The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” allowing Smith a few minutes of vocal rest and reminding us of the raw, shrill quality of the New York punk scene that Smith once enjoyed. first emerged as a musical artist.
On older tracks such as “Dancing Barefoot” and “Because The Night” (the smash hit she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen), Smith still sounds richly sultry and evocative. ‘Free Money’ is passionate and driving. She concludes the set with her reconfiguration of Van Morrison’s “Gloria”, a reading that has lost none of its unrepentant urgency, first restrained then frenetic and unrestrained. The only noticeable absence here is the three-part epic “Land,” which often served as a springboard for his more improvised vocal approaches. Tonight’s set has some of that, but feels a bit more contained.
Smith’s ensemble wrapped up this first installment of Higher Ground, a series of events from promoter Serious celebrating female artists. The other performers were Nadine Shah, whose distinctive pop songs combine tongue-in-cheek lyrical observations, theatrical vocal expression and intricate grooves. The multifaceted effects deployed by the saxophonist Pete Wareham make a crucial contribution to his sound. First part Connie Constance is striking, confident and exuberant and has a distinctive identity as a rare black artist in the indie punk sphere. There’s definitely real potential here – but the music lacks some of the nuances and intricacies of the rest of the evening. The program as a whole provided both complementary and contrasting elements, and provocation and emotional depth in equal measure.