Punk poet Patti Smith set for UK tour
Patti Smith tours album Banga to Glasgow, London and more
Much like her contemporary John Lydon, Smith is fêted less for what she does currently than for having hammered out, decades back, a profoundly revolutionary paradigm. Smith – and Blondie and The Ramones too – came along just as we needed reminding that American music needn’t consist entirely of blokes in cheesecloth shirts growing facial hair competitively. She flared, briefly but gloriously, with a unique brand of speed-fuelled hipster lyricism, releasing a set of albums – Horses, Easter and Radio Ethiopia – that earned her a place forevermore at the high table of Alternative.
She went on to live in a world of Patti imitators – Siouxsie, Chrissie Hynde, Ari Up, Pauline Murray, Poly Styrene, Fay Fife – but was just too strange and wilful to mingle. Decades followed, of marriage, motherhood and dilettante dabbling on the wilder shores of Manhattan bohemia. It was only with the death of her husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, formerly of MC5, in the late 80s, that Smith re-entered the fray, encouraged by disciples like REM, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. She became a respected, bestselling writer with Just Kids, a memoir of her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Seven albums followed, including the latest, Banga, each of which has been a firm, though these days rather less fervid, reaffirmation of her founding principles, layering reflective folk, tentative psychedelia and the trimmings of world music over Smith’s hallmarks: recited lyrics dealing with outlaws and vigilantes on life’s emotional peripheries, plunging into dark nights of the soul and turning the doomed romance up to eleven.
2 ABC, Glasgow, Wed 5 Sep.