Tag Archives: Michael Stipe

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Fischerspooner Debut New Music on Friday Night at Brooklyn Steel

October 26th, 2017

Classically trained musician Warren Fischer teamed up with video artist turned experimental-theater performer Casey Spooner to form the New Wave/electronic-pop duo Fischerspooner, emerging from the downtown New York City art scene nearly two decades agos. Ultimately the band would grow into an over-the-top performance troupe—including countless dancers and guest vocalists—and become known for their own take on electroclash and dramatic, glam live performances. According to Interview magazine, they “revolutionized electronic music, amplifying it to arena-blasting levels while also managing to keep it personal, passionate and dark.” Their debut full-length, the aptly titled #1 (stream it below), arrived in 2002, led by the smash single “Emerge” (above, live). “Fischerspooner prove themselves to be as talented working studio boards as they are at staging those Ziggy Stardust–style freakouts,” said AllMusic. “Remarkably varied, lush and fascinating from start to finish, #1 is a great album.”

Their follow-up, Odyssey (stream it below), more synth-pop than electroclash, came out in 2005. “Odyssey helps move Fischerspooner into the territory of their progenitors—the musically pop realm dominated by Erasure and Pet Shop Boys,” according to PopMatters. Fischerspooner’s third LP, Entertainment (stream it below), written over a two-year period, dropped in 2009. Afterward, Fischer and Spooner each went his own way … for a while. Fischerspooner are now back in a big way, with several multimedia projects and their fourth studio effort, the Michael Stipe–produced Sirwhich according to Interview, is “so catchy and dance-inducing it takes a second to realize that some of its lyrics tell private stories”—due early next year. Kick off Halloween early when Fischerspooner debut the new songs from their forthcoming album at Brooklyn Steel tomorrow night. Hometown duo the Carry Nation open the show.

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Patti Smith Celebrates and Pays Tribute at SummerStage on Thursday

September 15th, 2017

Patti Smith and Her Band – SummerStage – September 14, 2017

“Most of these songs I wrote for Fred, with Fred or about Fred,” said Patti Smith last night on Central Park’s SummerStage. It would have been the 69th birthday of Fred “Sonic” Smith, Patti’s late husband and the father of her two children, Jackson Smith and Jesse Paris Smith. Patti Smith has been part of New York City royalty for decades now, her role in the art world, contributions to music and writing, her ability to find herself by chance in the midst of history’s cool and famous since she first stepped foot here in the late ’60s. But the intimate knowledge of her personal life is relatively recent news for her fans. Smith’s memoirs, Just Kids and M Train, share stories about the love and loss of her best friend, Robert Mapplethorpe, and her husband. They also let in the world on the person behind the art, her uncanny ability to find the sacred in everything and even just a good cup of coffee in a local diner. Knowing this is how she experiences the world made a noteworthy performance to honor and remember her late husband all the more special and intimate.

With her son on guitar and daughter on keyboards, Smith played through a catalog inspired by or written with her husband, gone since 1994 but an inspiration ever since. “Fred, this is the product of many day dreams,” she said as an introduction to “Because the Night” (written with Bruce Springsteen). Smith shared how “Looking For You (I Was)” was penned for their anniversary, a love song written for the city of Detroit, her home in the early years of her married life, written while she was in NYC. The show was full of memorials for others, too. Smith dedicated “Ghost Dance” to the activists who took a stand at Standing Rock; “Dancing Barefoot” to Amy Winehouse, who would have turned 34 on Thursday; “Peaceable Kingdom,” to Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart, who passed away earlier in the day; “Pissing in a River” dedicated to legendary writer Sam Shepard, a close friend who passed away earlier this year. Despite all of these memorials, the performance never stopped feeling like a celebration. Messages sprinkled throughout were delivered with a sense of urgency: “We are free!” and “The people have the power!” Later, triumphantly holding aloft her guitar, Smith yelled, “This is the only fucking weapon we need!”

These are the messages Patti Smith was born to spread. Joined by her now adult children, she  took some moments to try to embarrass them a little, noting her daughter’s willingness to always give her mom her bobby pins. She’s also still wickedly funny, ending some stage banter with: “What am I talking about? I just turned 70. You know when you turn 70 your mind works … in mysterious ways.” But she remains the no-bullshit punk rocker she always was, bringing out the rock and roll animal inside her to dominate the stage for the set-closing “Land.” Even when performing other people’s songs, like Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” the message felt as much hers as theirs. R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, a longtime fan and friend, joined Smith to sing happy birthday to Fred and also to close the show with “People Have the Power.” It was a perfect way to end a night that remembered a powerful artist and reminded everyone there of the most powerful message of all—delivered by the woman he loved. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks


Photos courtesy of Silvia Saponaro | www.saponarophotography.com

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A Patti Smith Birthday Celebration

December 31st, 2013

Patti Smith – Webster Hall – December 30, 2013


Patti Smith celebrated her 67th birthday last night by performing for a sold-out crowd at Webster Hall, opening with a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” in tribute to the late Lou Reed—a deliberate and respectful rendition. Although the loss of Reed, one of Smith’s contemporaries, is no doubt still fresh, the song didn’t set a mournful tone. Instead, Smith was in good spirits, spouting playful banter as she and her band navigated through an eclectic set list, with songs from 2012’s Banga (“Fuji San,” “Mosaic”) taking their place beside early numbers like “Dancing Barefoot,” off the Patti Smith Group’s 1979 album, Wave, and “Free Money,” from Smith’s debut album, 1975’s Horses.

Despite the joke “Yes it’s my birthday, I am now 422 years old,” Smith proved she’s still quite in touch with pop culture, performing a soulful rendition of Rihanna’s hit single “Stay” as well as “Capital Letter,” a tune Smith wrote for the newest Hunger Games soundtrack. Not too many 422 year olds can claim that level of connectedness with the millennials in the crowd. Later in the sett, Smith was presented with a gift and a birthday cake by her daughter Jesse and friends (including Michael Stipe), as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday.” A surprise cascade of balloons was released from the ceiling, and Smith seemed just as delighted by her gift: seven pairs of socks.

Before the show’s end, Smith treated us to favorites like “Because the Night” and “Pissing in a River,” before bookending the set with another Reed song, “Perfect Day.” Leaving us with a New Year’s tiding, the auteur announced that 2014 is in fact the year of the horse—promising that it will be “a very strong year.” As evidenced once again by her powerful performance, Smith’s words carry conviction. We should all be inclined to believe her. —Alena Kastin