Oh gosh, I feel like I’ve been anticipating this weekend and the chance to hear Patti Smith perform her poetry and music for my whole life.
Well, I only found out I was going to the concert a month ago, so that’s an impossible hyperbole, but it hints at something true. I’ve always wanted to see her live.
Why is Patti Smith worth seeing live? She’s partially responsible for punk rock’s pathogenesis. She was a spoken word poet before she formed the Patti Smith Group and recorded Horses. Her poetry seems to stem almost from the beatnik tradition. Her first and undebatably best album Horses is essentially poetry screamed along to rock music. That’s kind of how I think of punk rock, mediocre poetry screamed to electric guitar, and in the case of Smith‒ pretty decent poetry screamed to electric guitar. Patti Smith made rock and roll intellectual. She inspired so many acts that came after her, from R.E.M. and the Smiths to U2 and Madonna. She’ll be performing at Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday night at 7:00 p.m.
What can you expect from this weekend’s performance? Smith just released a live album on March 30th entitled Wicked Messenger. It’s a live round up of her hits such as “Because The Night”, “People Have the Power”, and “Redondo Beach.” It also includes a spoken word recording. The ambience of Old Town School of Folk Music will likely elicit more spoken word pieces than she’d put on an album: Expect a poetry heavy evening.
Part of the reason for seeing any rock ‘n’ roll hall-of-famer live is the banter in between songs. Patti Smith is prone to long asides. She’s incredibly candid and frank. A natural storyteller as her national book award for Just Kids shows, she’s a product of the ’70s NYC punk scene, so she has no lack of stories to share; she’s friends with Bob Dylan! On top of that, she’s really well-read when it comes to romantic poets, and she’s super politically active. I am expecting at least one comment supporting Bernie Sanders and telling people to vote for him. She’s performing with her two children so there will likely be anecdotes about herself as a mother.
Finally, I am really looking forward to hearing her say Chicago. If you have not heard this, please look it up. She pronounces the name of our fair city Chi-caw-GUH.
Tickets are still available for $75 for both performances though they are likely to sell out by the end of the week. Old Town School of Folk Music is located at 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, (773) 728-6000.