Patti Smith, one of the most important and influential artists over the last 50 years played The Wiltern Wednesday night. “The Punk Poet Laureate” is known for a music style mix poetry and punk and was a major part of the Punk scene in NYC in the 70s.
As an author Smith has written or co-written over 15 books. Smith was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Smith’s band is her guitarist since 1974 Lenny Kaye, drummer since 1975 Jay Lee Daugherty, bassist Tony Shanahan who joined in 1996, and the newest member is her son Jackson on guitar. However, Jackson has had to miss a few shows due to the passing of his father-in-law and filling in is John Mellencamp guitarist Andy York. Original bassist Ivan Kral passed away in February 2020. The Patti Smith Group broke up in 1979 and reformed briefly in 1988 then again since 1996. As a group they’ve released just three albums which were between 1976 and 1979. Smith as a solo artist has released eight albums with the most recent being Banga released 10 years ago.
Smith played a set of 17 songs opening with “Redondo Beach,” which she typically plays as the opener or second song, but for a SoCal show was very fitting. Smith is the kind of artist that you see and know right away you’re in the presence of greatness. Smith paid tribute and honored a few friends like the iconic Bob Dylan with “The Wicked Messenger,” the late poet legend Allen Ginsburg with “Footnote to Howl,”and another music legend Neil Young with “After the Goldrush.” For Patti Smith Group songs, they performed classics like “Ghost Dance,” “Pissing in a River,” and their biggest song co-written between Smith and Bruce Springsteen “Because the Night.” Smith ended with The Who’s “My Generation.” Like any show these days, there’s always video being recorded on phones, but Smith is the kind of the artist to see in person to really feel the energy she brings.
Words and photos by Alex Kluft
- Redondo Beach
- The Wicked Messenger- Bob Dylan
- Footnote to Howl- Allen Ginsberg
- My Blakean Year
- Free Monkey
- Ghost Dance
- Dancing Barefoot
- Beneath the Southern Cross
- I Wanna Be Your Dog without Smith- The Stooges
- Dog Dream (a poem)
- One Too Many Mornings- Bob Dylan
- After the Gold Rush- Neil Young
- Because the Night
- Pissing in a River
- Gloria- Them
- My Generation- The Who