I've been living in New York for 18 years now, and while I have visited the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, I'd never seen Patti Smith live until yesterday evening. She plays regularly in town, including popular New Year's Eve stints, but somehow I'd always managed to miss her. Well actually I did see her once a few years ago, but it was a poetry reading in Central Park, one of her first public appearances after her husband's death. I guess I lacked the motivation to catch an actual show because the whole poetic-priestess bit kinda bored me. But I loved her covers album from last year, Twelve, which really drove home the point that she's a fantastic rock singer.
The crowd at the Stockholm Jazz Festival, where Smith was performing, was much larger than the previous day, and the average age higher (I didn't see any babies in sound-blocking headphones this time). The show got off to a great start ("Dancing Barefoot," a 20-minute version of "Are You Experienced") but then fell into a kind of maudlin, slow-paced rut. Things picked up again, however, with a series of absolute punches in the gut: "Pissing in a River," "Because the Night," "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Rock and Roll Nigger"--she blazed through them all, the band (including classic PSG members Jay Dee Daugherty and Lenny Kaye) pumping mightily behind. And I'm sorry, but you just can't fake that kind of charisma.
On a sartorial note, Ms. Smith spent most of the set in a long coat, explaining at some point that she had a cold. She did take it off a couple of times, revealing not one of her trademark Ann Demeulemeester button-down shirts but a white T and mom-ish jeans (tucked into brown boots).
That was a fitting cap to a day spent exploring the neighborhood of Kungsholmen, then taking the tram around parts of Djurgården. The weather is a bit iffy today, which may provide appropriate atmospherics for a visit to the cemetary of Skogskyrkogården, where Greta Garbo is buried. More later.