Patti Smith’s ability to seamlessly mesh beat poetry and rock and roll with her flawless and emotionally raw delivery, is truly a religious experience. Easter Sunday was a fitting date for the performance of Smith’s landmark 1975 album Horses, with the first words of the album spoken, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine”. Horses is an album that artfully takes you through her dreams, visions, and thoughts – the music was birthed in an era of protest, great change, and great music. An energy that has been thoroughly encapsulated in her words, they have aged just as well as she has, rich and inspiring as ever, now 42 years on.
Three songs deep, the first verse of ‘Free Money’ ended and the chorus hit the audience – a vibrant mix of young and old, the crowd stood to their feet. Flooding to the front, people chose to ignore their assigned seating, reaching up for Smith’s hands, sharing the microphone, and dancing freely. The air was electric as her presence flowed freely through the hall taking all of us in its swell. She spoke of her generation, to our generation – pleading for change, for the people rising up to make fate our own. “Love each other, motherfuckers. Stand naked before the world and be reborn” she bellowed into the audience after a reading from the Bible’s telling of Jesus’s resurrection and an encore performance of The Who’s ‘My Generation’. The concert ended as she screamed “This [guitar] is my weapon, motherfuckers”, proceeding to shred as each string broke and the crowd erupted for one last time.
I have never seen someone as alive and filled with creative fire as Patti Smith. Whether the audience members grew up along side Smith or discovered her in their adolescence, she has moved us all. A perfect mixture of past, present and future; her music and writing a timeless piece of work. She told us she will live to 110. I’m confident that she will.