Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tonight I saw Patti Smith play "Horses"

When she hit the peak of "Birdland" I started crying. I cried several more times throughout the night. I've never cried like that at a concert.

She sang "Birdland." She sang "Land." She sang "Gloria" and "Kimberly" and "Dancing Barefoot."

She sang "When Doves Cry."

She listed loved ones she has lost over the years at the end of "Elegie" and asked us to do the same. I whispered two names and cried again.

She had us sing "Happy Birthday" to John Cale over her smartphone.

She thanked women everywhere and told the women of the world to misbehave in peace and screamed, "I am woman, hear me fucking roar!" as she shredded a noise-guitar solo. She apologized for working on International Women's Day but said Horses is beyond gender.

She played "Citizen Ship" for what she said was the first time in decades and forgot the words and joked about her Stockholm performance and had to start over and then came blazing back until the crowd was on its feet as she recited the inscription from the Statue of Liberty.

She did a Chris Farley impression.

She tore the strings off her guitar one by one and threw them to the crowd.

She introduced the band and reminded us that Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Daugherty have been with her from the beginning, and the other guitarist is her son.

When she started the preamble to "Land" the room was so intense that I squeezed my hands together until my knuckles were white. She turned the poetry break into an angry yelp of freedom led by Johnny and his jacket full of knives.

She and Lenny Kaye and Tony Shanahan traded vocals on "My Generation" and then it built into a frenzy while Patti told us how her generation believed in love and revolution and that they could make the world a better place, and then she said, "Look what it got us: Donald Trump." But then she shouted, "But Donald Trump is 70 fucking years old! BUT SO AM I!" and assured us that she wasn't going anywhere and that she wasn't going to stop misbehaving peacefully and that she was going to live as long as she fucking possibly could.

She waved to the balcony and it felt like she really meant it.

When the band kicked in on "Gloria" and she belted the first, "Do you know how to Pony?" a wave swept through the auditorium and we were awash in an aura of the kind of intensity with which one occupies a room only a precious few times over the span of one's life and when she said rock and roll was our greatest weapon we believed it as surely as if she'd struck us down on the road to Damascus.

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