Patti Smith, Intense & Brilliant

Patti Smith is a “poet proper. Period.”

The first of Patti Smith's only two American concerts of her

current tour was an astounding show, if also loose and somewhat ragged. As

Smith explained to the audience, Thursday's (Jan. 2) show was the first stop on

the tour, and she and her band were still trying to "shake the dust onto

their shoes"--a process in which she claimed, "The first dusting is always the

toughest." Despite the fact that her show was not yet road-worn, Smith

demonstrated why she is considered one of rock and roll's truly great voices,

both metaphorically and literally.

Smith walked on stage clad in black

jeans, white t-shirt, and black sport coat, holding a volume of her lyrics and

poetry. Smith is one of the few (the only?) rock and roll figures whose work is

not poetry as that term is usually applied to popular songwriters like

McCartney or Springsteen. Patti Smith is a poet proper, period. As she

read several pieces at the beginning of her set, she reminded me of no one as

much as poet Sonia Sanchez. Both writers are a sheer thrill to hear


After wishing everyone a happy new year, Smith launched into an

amazing rendition of "Piss Factory..."

[For more of this review, click on

the “Continued” icon below.]