Patti Smith - O2 ABC, Glasgow, Wed 5 Sep 2012
Ferocious display of charisma and talent from one of rock’s great romantic radicals
Patti Smith is one of rock’s great romantic radicals, with an ecstatic vision of poetry and rock’n’roll as a liberating force. It’s easy to sneer, but in these cynical times we need committed artists like Smith. One of the beautiful things about her is that for all her charisma and talent, she never comes across as some messianic rock star, but as a fan, as in love with art and life as the rest of us. When she dances during the instrumental breaks in songs, her unselfconscious joy is clear to all. The big songs – ‘Gloria’, ‘Because The Night’, ‘Dancing Barefoot’ – become communal experiences, but deeper cuts like ‘April Fool’, a giddy evocation of young love, and the slow-burning trance-rock of ‘Beneath the Southern Cross’ are just as affecting. An intense encore has her band, led by long-term guitarist Lenny Kaye, cranking up the volume and energy, beginning with the feral howl of ‘Banga’ and ending in a ferocious ‘Babelogue/Rock’n’Roll Nigger’, which sees Smith break all her guitar strings, deliver an impassioned defence of Pussy Riot, and tell the audience they can change the world. Wow! The sea of possibilities is out there.