Tag Archives: Patti Smith


A Raucous 40th-Anniversary Party at Music Hall of Williamsburg

December 1st, 2017

L.A.M.F. 4oth Anniversary – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 30, 2017

There’s a lot of talk about how the Lower East Side is not same as it used to be. Hell, the name of The Bowery Presents hearkens back to the glory days of the late ’70s when a few bands set the town—and the world—ablaze with a new kind of fury that hadn’t been witnessed before. Bands like Ramones, Television and the Patti Smith Group all turned rock and roll in on itself, showing how bloated it had become. This new class would behead bands with 100-piece drum kits and 15-minute flute-driven epics about mystical creatures to bring the genre back to its sneering basics. Punk made the Bowery famous worldwide, and one of its hometown heroes was Johnny Thunders and his band the Heartbreakers. With their seminal trash-rock opus, L.A.M.F., Thunders and his band were probably the most rock and roll out of any of the ’77 class. They stuck to the same basics that had been taught to millions by Chuck Berry while adding some of the era’s reckless abandon. (The band also took advantage of their junk-saturated environment more than their peers, and Thunders passed away in 1991.)

Last year, keeper of the NYC rock flame, Jesse Malin, assembled an all-star tribute to play the L.A.M.F. record in full. Needless to say it was a boozed-up blast. This year marks the album’s 40th anniversary and they pulled out all the stops to do it again at a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg last night. With a lineup of original Heartbreaker guitarist Walter Lure, Blondie drummer Clem Burke, Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and Social Distortion singer-guitarist Mike Ness, the band ripped through the full LP, trading off vocal duties throughout. Malin (who also opened the show) joined them for a few numbers but seemed to know his place and cleared the stage so these punk legends could hold court.

The band was loose and some numbers ended in charmingly sloppy ways. You could tell this was getting Burke a little agitated, but in defense of the Heartbreakers’ reckless spirit, Ness said that no one cared if the songs came out perfect. The band left the stage once they completed the album and came back to do an encore of Heartbreakers rarities and even a couple of Thunders solo tunes. Malin returned to sing “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,” from So Alone, and Ness took on that album’s slow-brooding title track immediately afterward. The show ended with Lure singing the Heartbreakers song “Too Much Junky Business.” It was a great night that transported everyone to a more dangerous and unpredictable era of rock and roll. —Pat King | @MrPatKing


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


A Lenny Kaye Birthday Party with Patti Smith at The Bowery Ballroom

December 28th, 2016

Patti Smith and Her Band – The Bowery Ballroom – December 27, 2016

(Photo: Dina Regine)

(Photo: Dina Regine)

Lenny Kaye has worn many hats over the course of his impressive career, including guitarist, songwriter, producer and author—but he is best known for being a founding member of the Patti Smith Group. In tribute to their long and fruitful partnership, they threw Kaye a rocking 70th birthday party last night at The Bowery Ballroom, featuring Kaye and a slew of fellow musicians and friends performing for a sold-out crowd.

Kaye laughed with a sense of disbelief as he prefaced a performance of his song “Crazy Like a Fox,” with the fact that he’d recorded it 50 years ago. As he and the rotating backing musicians, including Tom Clark and Tony Shanahan (also of Patti Smith Group), tore through a set of nostalgic cover songs and originals, Kaye reminisced about growing up in New Jersey, his love of the Lower East Side and his fondness for the opportunity to work with a variety of different artists and genres during his days as a record producer.

Smith later joined the band to perform songs like “Free Money,” “Pissing in a River” and “Mercy Is,” lending her powerful stage presence in tribute to her longtime friend and collaborator. “Hey, Patti,” yelled someone in the crowd. “Tell us a story about Lenny from the old days.” Without missing a beat, she retorted, with a wink, “Those were the new days, these are the old days.” But judging by the great music and big smiles onstage from Kaye and Smith (who turns 70 herself in just a few days), the “old days” seem quite promising. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK


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


Patti Smith Gets By with a Little Help from Her Friends

June 6th, 2013

Patti Smith and Friends – The Bowery Ballroom – June 5, 2013

In 1929, the poet Federico Garcia Lorca traveled from his native Spain to New York City, living here for a year. In 1936, he submitted a manuscript for Poet in New York to his publisher, but he never saw it go to print because within a few weeks he’d been shot by one of Franco’s firing squads for his outspoken antifascist views. This history lesson is crucial to understanding last night’s Patti Smith show at The Bowery Ballroom, which she organized with Lorca in NYC, a four-month festival dedicated to celebrating Lorca’s life.

The singer kicked off the night by addressing the crowd directly to let us know how the night would work: First, there would be some poetry and performances by some of her friends, and then she’d play a few tunes. But she knew what people were really there for—a set from the legendary rocker. “I’m very happy to have you tonight in our celebration of Lorca,” said Smith. Then, with sarcastic charm, she added: “I can see
you’re all avid readers.”

Despite everyone coming to see Smith, the audience listened intently as a collection of her friends, including Lorca’s niece, read some of the outstanding work from the collection. Smith kept the mood light as an emcee, but still impressed upon us the importance of Lorca’s legacy. “Our country might suck in a lot of ways,” she said. “But we can still use our voice.” And boy, can Patti Smith still use hers. After the thought-provoking readings and performances, she played an energetic set fitting of the legendary status she’s built for herself. It was what the Bowery crowd had been eagerly anticipating all night, and she didn’t disappoint. By the end of the night, we were all enraptured by one of America’s greatest poets. —Alex Kapelman

Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com


Perhaps the Start of a New Tradition

December 31st, 2012

Punch Brothers – The Bowery Ballroom – December 29, 2012

These things have to start somewhere. In absence of Patti Smith’s longstanding New Year’s Eve run at The Bowery Ballroom, on Saturday night Punch Brothers kicked off what we can only hope will become an annual three-night out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new run at the corner of Delancey and Bowery. With Chinese lanterns strung across the room and cozy lights above the stage, the mood was celebratory, as rhythmic “We want an encore!” clapping spontaneously broke out before the band even took the stage. This was an arena-rock-primed crowd for a bluegrass band: What gives?

When Chris Thile and the band took the stage, opening with their cover of Josh Ritter’s “Another New World”—featured on their new Ahoy! EP (starting a show-long call-and-response of “Ahoy!”)—the reasons for the crowd’s enthusiasm were apparent. The song and the following set were without-a-net string music, with an openness worthy of a jam band, interplay reminiscent of great jazz quartets and songwriting rivaling your favorite indie-rock freak folk. The audience went silent during the songs before erupting like a canned laugh track in between, eagerly applauding Noam Pikelny’s banjo figure eights or Thile’s masterful mandolin playing. The set drew from Punch Brothers’ entire catalog and beyond. “New York City” was an early ode to their hometown, while “Heart in a Cage” prompted a happy sing-along for a maybe-not-so-happy song, and “Song for a Young Queen” was one of many giddy instrumentals wrapping up multiple genres in a singular Punch Brothers sound.

The second half of the 90-minute show was one long highlight reel: the band premiering a nice cover of the Beach Boys“Surf’s Up” (a song they “wished to God” they had written), paying tribute to the Seldom Scene’s Mike Auldridge, who had passed away earlier in the day, with “Through the Bottom of the Glass,” and handling an awe-inspiring movement from Thile’s “The Blind Leading the Blind.” During the last one, as the mathematically beautiful music unfolded, I was reminded that this bourbon-sipping picker is also a certifiable genius. As he led the band through a fantastic encore that hit on all of the quintet’s strengths, Thile mentioned his New Year’s resolution was to “drink more and better whiskey.” I’d like to add to that: Start a new New Year’s Eve tradition. —A. Stein



First Aid Kit Transports

March 29th, 2012

First Aid Kit – Webster Hall – March 28, 2012

(Photo: Alexis Maindrault)

Every once in a while you hear a voice that transports and transforms, takes your surroundings and makes them something else. Last night there were two such voices onstage at Webster Hall, filling the room like a hot air balloon that lifted the audience out of the East Village to worlds unknown. The voices belonged to Johanna and Klara Söderberg, who, backed by a drummer, make up First Aid Kit. The ladies professed nervousness to playing this big sold-out New York City show, but they showed no sign of unease as they floated the audience across dusty roads, wind-swept plains, campfires and whiskey toasts.

Despite being from Sweden, their music is pure Americana, the folk of the coffee shops of yore and the old school country of cowboy bars. The sisters worked through much of their terrific new release, The Lion’s Roar. In early highlight “Emmylou,” names like Emmylou, Johnny and Graham were mythic metaphors powering the music. For “Ghost Town” they tried a “little experiment,” stepping away from the microphones and amplifiers and singing directly to the crowd, which dropped to absolute silence. Without a single dissenting voice in the audience, the effect was as if time had stopped—one of many goose-bumps moments during the set. Indeed, the crowd’s silence throughout the night was deafening: The respect and awe of raucous applause and hollering contained in absolutely no sound at all.

While you’d expect covers from a band like First Aid Kit to include the typical hallowed country canon, they delivered some pleasant surprises. First a shout-out to fellow countrymen and early supporters the Knife (actually Fever Ray) with “When I Grow Up,” which was ethereal and magical under the sisters’ spell. For the encore, they paid tribute to Patti Smith, calling her the “coolest fucking woman on Earth” before a great version of “Dancing Barefoot.” Still, it was the best-in-genre originals that kept the audience floating above the fray. The set proper ended with the aptly titled “The Lion’s Roar,” and the night concluding, like the album, with a raucous “King of the World,” claps, guitars and two sublime voices. —A. Stein


Patti Smith Brandishes a Weapon

December 30th, 2011

Patti Smith and Her Band – The Bowery Ballroom – December 29, 2011

Last night, on the eve of her 65th birthday, Patti Smith and her band began their sold-out three-night run at The Bowery Ballroom, just as they’ve done for the past 14 years. After beginning the show with intense, energetic versions of “Space Monkey,” “25th Floor” and “Birdland,” Smith greeted the hometown crowd, chatting in her typical familiar way, and described the many international travels and adventures she and the band experienced over the past year. “But there’s nothing like New York!” shouted out an overzealous crowd member. Smith paused, staring out, stone-faced, as a slight tension filled the room. “This is my fuckin’ punch line,” she proclaimed, with that ever-present twinkle in her eye.

In addition to her signature sharp attitude and wit, Smith’s performance was on point as well, as she interwove her spoken word with songs from the span of her career, including renditions of “Summer Cannibals,” “My Blakean Year,” “Don’t Say Nothing,” and crowd-pleasers like “Gloria,” and “Pissing in a River.” Throughout, longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye peppered the tunes with vigorous, intricate guitar solos. Of course, Smith is also known for her activism and political views, and in the past year has been a great supporter of the #Occupy movement. In addition to performing rallying songs like “People Have the Power,” she shouted messages of inspiration to the crowd throughout the set, encouraging us to speak out and create art, as well as suggesting that we occupy and focus efforts around the struggling city of Detroit.

When the clock struck midnight, everyone in the venue sang “Happy Birthday” to Smith, and the band struck up a snarling version of “Rock N Roll Nigger,” as the singer-songwriter peeled off her blazer, danced around and shredded away on an electric guitar, not unlike how she may have looked back when the song was released in 1978. “Behold the weapon of my generation!” Smith shouted, holding up her electric guitar. “It’s the only fucking weapon you need!” And with a few more strums and a wave to the crowd, she left the stage, a triumphant way to usher in her 65th year. —Alena Kastin


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Patti Smith on 12/29

December 27th, 2011


Patti Smith and Her Band close out 2011 with three sold-out shows at The Bowery Ballroom, beginning on Thursday. These tickets went quickly, so there’s a good chance you don’t have any. If that’s the case and you’d still like to go, you’re in luck because The House List is giving away two to the 12/29 show. So try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Patti Smith and Her Band) and a brief message explaining your New Year resolution. Eddie Bruiser, who’s still trying to figure out what to resolve, will notify the winner by Thursday. Good luck.

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Patti Smith Returns

December 30th, 2010

Patti Smith – The Bowery Ballroom – December 29, 2010

Last night Patti Smith began the first show of her annual three-night Bowery Ballroom run with some good-natured taunting. “You’re insane!” she told the crowd. “This is the night we do just so I can get ready for tomorrow!” Sure enough, minutes later, Smith forgot some lyrics to the song “Break It Up,” from her debut album, Horses. While the band paused for Smith to collect her thoughts, she smiled and jokingly reassured us, “This is all gonna turn out all right.” And things certainly did seem to turn out just fine.

In fact, the spontaneous atmosphere at the show provided the opportunity for Smith to respond to some of the endless requests and comments from the audience, as well as tell stories behind song lyrics or moments in her career, such as her heartfelt introduction to a cover of “Strawberry Fields,” with Smith recounting a story of her weekly routine during a difficult time many years ago, when a trip to a diner for an endless cup of coffee, a chocolate doughnut and a quarter’s worth of the Beatles song on the jukebox “made it all better.”

As the show continued, Smith and her band ran through commanding versions of “My Blakean Year,” “Free Money,” “Mother Rose” and “Pissing in a River,” with breaks in between for banter ranging from Smith’s sex life to her love of Law & Order. Seeming to enjoy these causal chats just as much as her fans, Smith followed up a nostalgic introduction to “Because the Night” by joking, “The songs are just an excuse so I can talk a lot.” Be that as it may, Smith’s performance was a testament to her enduring appeal—the rare rock icon simultaneously captivating with music while relating to her crowd like an old friend sitting across the table. —Alena Kastin


Spend New Year’s Eve with The Bowery Presents

December 30th, 2009


The tough thing about New Year’s Eve is that it’s amateur night. But that’s OK because you can avoid all the drama by spending the night rocking out with us. Patti Smith and Her Band at The Bowery Ballroom and Soulive at Music Hall of Williamsburg are already sold out, but no worries ’cause we’ve got plenty of other options for you to close out 2009 in style.

If you like to shake your ass—and let’s face it, who doesn’t?—then you should check out Detroit Cobras (with the A-Bones and the Underthings opening) at Mercury Lounge on Thursday. They bring a mix of garage-rock grease and early soul classics (think Otis Redding and Irma Thomas) plus other R&B covers you’ve probably never even heard. Expect soulful singing, some fierce guitar and a whole lot of fun.

Have you been to Brooklyn Bowl yet? It’s pretty badass. They’ve got great food and local beers to go alongside 16 high-tech bowling lanes. And their sound system is fantastic, which works out great since Q-Tip (who also happens to be badass) will be spinning there. If you don’t want to be anywhere near Times Square, then do what feels right and head to Brooklyn Bowl tomorrow.

One good thing about New Year’s Eve is that places stay open later than usual, which means you definitely need some late-night music. You know this, and Titus Andronicus and their openers, the So So Glos, know it, too. After the Detroit Cobras’ show clears out, doors will open at 1:30 a.m. Titus Andronicus, whose name comes from Shakespeare and whose sound comes from Jersey, will ring in the New Year with energetic songs and a heavy dose of guitar distortion. What else are you gonna do—go to bed?

The Word is kind of like a recipe: Add John Medeski on keys to Robert Randolph on the pedal steel to the North Mississippi Allstars (Chris Chew, bass, Cody Dickinson, drums, and Luther Dickinson, guitar) and you get a tasty stew of blues, funk and gospel, plus some cool covers (like the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”). Because these guys are all in their own bands, it’s been difficult for them to find enough time to play together. They put out a superb self-titled album of gospel instrumentals in 2001 and played shows to support it. But then they didn’t perform together again until around this time two years ago. And now they’re back at Terminal 5 on NYE.  “Joyful Sounds” indeed.


Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Patti Smith on 12/30

December 28th, 2009


The legendary Patti Smith is playing three sold-out shows at The Bowery Ballroom this week. Tickets obviously went quickly, but The House List is giving away two to Wednesday’s show. Want to Grow a Pair? Then just fill out the form below, listing your name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Patti Smith, 12/30) and a brief message telling us what your favorite Patti Smith song is. Eddie Bruiser, a “Because the Night” kind of guy, will notify the winner by noon on Wednesday. Good luck.

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