Patti Smith in Manchester, UK

Patti Smith
Manchester Academy 1, UK
July 2, 2004
It's been a few years since Patti Smith with her band have performed in Manchester, her last concert at The Apollo bristled with energy and emotion.
Tonight's concert started very gently as Smith took to the stage under a single spotlight accompanied by only a keyboard arpeggio to sing "Trampin'"

Smith is still the image of her younger self; skinny, long hair, dark jacket and a white shirt spilling out over her black jeans. She's still got the attitude to match too, and the energy.
She talks about her influences and is adept at throwing in the odd
off-the-wall comment for amusement. ('I've eaten a curry every night of this tour!')

Her concerns and interests are now given extra emphasis by the visual imagery projected behind her. It ranges from novelist Herman Hesse, Ghandi and Marlon Brando (who died earlier in the afternoon) to Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

This is neatly linked to the tracks which are a mix of old and new, and which do seem to sit quite happily together. For example, early work such as "Space Monkey" and "25th Floor" don't seem such bad neighbours to new tracks "Ghandi", "Jubilee" or "Stride of the mind".

It's all held together by Smith's band featuring original members Lenny Kaye (lead guitar) and Jay Dee Daugherty (drums). They provide a solid backing, knocking the pace up a notch when required or giving Smith the space to open up her vocals from a whisper to a growl and onto a full blown roar.

The classics still sound pretty fresh, the slow loping lines of "We Three" sounded as beautiful as I'd heard them from my stereo. Break it up also stayed faithful, as for the encores "People Have the Power" and "Gloria"; this was the point where Smith moved into raw energy mode. She introduced "People Have the Power" by passionately commenting on how music has the ability to effect change and thanked those who took to the streets in protest against the war in Iraq. With emotions suitably raised it was straight into the song, with footage of demos from around the world as a backdrop to Smith, hands moving like an agitated traffic cop.

"Gloria" follows, it's always a show stopper and in this case, a closer. Hard to realize that it's brooding intro leads up a snaking path to an ecstatic chanting finale, but it does.
Through ringing ears I realize that Smith is still relevant, still passionate and one of the few musicians in their fifties who still have absolute integrity.

Writer: Pete Doherty

Photo:Pete Doherty

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