Patti Smith Take Two

The reports are clearly beginning to come in about Patti Smith's triumphant

return to center stage. ATN has already reported on performances earlier this

year in Detroit and Toronto. In addition to Friday's Second Stage

Lollapalooza set, Smith did a show in Central Park Thursday (July 27).

Ramones and Masters Of Reality producer Daniel Rey was one of the faithful

who toughed it out in unbearable heat along with " a lot of sweating downtown

types" at Smith's Central Park show, as part of the "Summer Stage Free

Concerts." According to the discerning ear of Rey, "Patti hasn't lost

anything. She's the reigning diva of the underground." She was backed by

Lenny Kaye on guitar, Tony Shanihan on bass ( formerly with John Cale), and

her sister Kimberly on guitar and mandolin. Her drummer, J. D. didn't play

the Central Park gig.

According to Vin Scelsa, from radio station WXRK in New York, (who calls

himself "a friend and fan" of Patti's) Smith's show was superb. He was

enraptured by the subtlety, grace and humanity of her performance. Scelsa

told us "it was like a peaceful extended family...a family reunion with

Patti's father in attendance, her children, her sister, and 2,000 onlookers

whom she embraced as her family."

He went on to say that her show was touching, but not maudlin. "She didn't

want to milk her recent tragedies. There was only one place in the show that

she had trouble. She fumbled a little with the beginning of a new song she'd

written for Fred [Sonic Smith, her late husband]--she had a little problem

with the words, her emotions, and the novelty of playing the guitar in front

of a crowd. She stopped the song, and believe me the entire audience held

their breath. She realized what was happening, smiled at the audience and

said, 'it's okay, it's okay. You know why it's okay? Because this is the way

it is.'"

Scelsa was also moved by Smith's appearance. She was dressed casually in

jeans and t-shirt, with her hair caught in two pigtails. "She looked just

like a kid," he said. "Sometimes she even put her glasses on. A guy from the

crowd kept calling out for 'Gloria' and finally Smith acknowledged him and

belted out G-L-O-R-I-A, and at that exact moment I knew she hadn't lost

anything. She didn't do the song, but instead told the crowd: 'This guy has

been following me around supermarkets for the past twenty years, insisting I

play Gloria...' "