Patti Smith – The Forum, Bath, June 28 2012
By Clare Lowe
Patti Smith is a woman who demands attention. On this muggy Thursday evening she does just that. As Smith shuffles on to the stage with a massive grin on her face, everyone rushed from the seats and to the front of the stage. As the opening chords of ‘Dancing Barefoot’ began, the audience were invited into her world. Tonight she has a great four-piece band, including Lenny Kaye on guitar (also featured on Smith’s album Horses). All seem in good spirits on this sticky June evening.
‘Redondo Beach’ and ‘Free Money’ follow before Smith speaks to the audience. After hanging around in Bath all day, she shares a tale of a mixed-up food order, receiving a lasagna and believing it to be a beef and ale pie. Her demeanor is fun and excitable, coming across as very down to earth. She’s playful and the story turns into a two-way conversation with the whole crowd.
As well as playing more classic tracks like, ‘Ghost Dance’ and ‘People Have The Power’, songs from her new album Banga made their fist appearance. During ‘April Fool’, Smith forgets the words, but the band carry on regardless and she shyly starts where she left of. ‘This Is The Girl’, a poem Smith wrote after Amy Winehouse’s death, was perhaps the weakest tune of the whole set. However, the following ‘Fuji-san’ was excellent and had so much more impact live than on record.
The classic ‘Because The Night’ gets everyone shouting the lyrics and dancing, whilst ‘Pissing In A River’ proves how fantastically powerful Smith’s voice is and that she hasn’t lost her drive and passion for the music she creates.
She finishes the set with ‘Gloria’, flailing the mic stand around and shouting the chorus to the audience. During the song, she ends up speaking nonsense about loyalty to your toothbrush and your sports team, confessing “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’m so fucking happy”.
There’s something so likable about Smith and her relationship with her band mates, who seem to feed off her energy and muted aggression that I think everyone in the Forum was feeling the exact same way at that moment. Throughout the set, she engaged the crowd like a beatnik minister and this is no more prominent than in the encore of ‘Banga’ and ‘Rock n Roll Nigger’, screaming “outside of society is where I wanna be” and growling at the front row. The show ends and the whole band leave the stage with bigger smiles on their faces than when it began.
At 65, Smith still engages the crowd and has the hyperactive energy she displayed on stage during the 70s. She’s a huge influence to new artists and long may that continue.