The “Godmother of punk” wowed the audience of the bohemian seaside town for the final day of her UK tour. I am proud to say that the event was my first live show in Brighton and began my first week living in the city.
The gig felt intimate despite being sold out and it was all down to the lady herself. Patti Smith shared anecdotal stories about her love of Brighton and made the set personal by performing alongside her son, Jackson.
She may be viewed as a key figure in the New York 70s punk movement but Patti Smith has the ability toweave nostalgia and of-the-now issues into her music and audience banter. Her latest album Banga was released in June, earlier this summer. After fans had an eight year wait for the release they were out in force to celebrate her return to Brighton.
The show was kicked off with ‘Dancing Barefoot’ and telling the crowd she’s “glad to be back” her stories felt warm and genuine, amping-up the crowd’s response. This led on to ‘Redondo Beach’ from her seminal debut album Horses. Though, fans were treated to new hits, alongside the classics. ‘April Fool’ and ‘Fuji-san’ were performed from Banga with the likes of ‘Ghost Dance’ and ‘Pissing in a River’. Surprisingly (to me at least) the new tracks were well known and very well received by the audience but old classics got cheers from the opening chords, the universal sign of fandom.
Smith still refuses to shy away from the big political issues, to everyone’s delight. It was refreshing compared with most young performers considered alternative nowadays though there’s one notable exception. During the crowd-pleasing ‘Gloria’ she spells out “G-L-O-R-I-A” in the lyrics and continued by spelling “P-U-S-S-Y R-I-O-T” to raucous applause.
She also played ‘This Is The Girl’, a song dedicated to Amy Winehouse from her newest and eleventh studio album. She faltered and forgot some of the words during the track or as she put it “Sometimes the words become so abstract”. Smith pleasantly reasoned “I didn’t forget the words, they just got spirited away”. Anecdotes continued to be sprinkled in her repartee with stories like visiting Sylvia Plath’s grave during this UK tour and their hotel where mattresses are being replaced and no one seemed to have quite the right amount but it would be the ideal site for a party.
In the encore Smith returned to the subject of Pussy Riot, asking the crowd “Why should two girls be given two years in prison for uttering a prayer in a church where they should be protected?” The feminist group who have been dubbed the “new punk” seemed to gain the stamp of approval from one of the most iconic punk figures in history and it felt like everyone agreed.
The audience were attentive and energetic throughout the gig and Patti Smith seemed to fit right in, even flirting with the crowd giving them a sultry “Hello girls”. When a performer has such a history in music there’s a danger that every person will have one favourite that isn’t played, be bored by too much new material or see the same gig they saw five years previously. Fortunately Patti Smith delivered, playing an amazing live show and stunned with the continued quality of her vocals and lively dancing.
I could not have asked for a better first gig and Brighton Dome felt like the perfect venue. Most places I frequent have seating up stairs or you can buy tickets for the standing downstairs but there’s also a ring of seats downstairs. Genius. You can dance, sit for a slow song or choose between the two. A highly recommended venue, an unforgettable evening, I don’t have a bad word to say so I better get off the internet before they kick me off.
Brighton Dome, Brighton, Wednesday 10th September.