Review: Patti Smith Performs ‘Horses’ in Entirety for Moore Theater Crowd

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In 1975, the number one song in Billboard on December 13th was “Fly Robin Fly” by Silver Convention. The airwaves featured other hits of the day by K.C. & The Sunshine Band, the O’Jays, the Bee Gees and the Bay City Rollers.

This was also the date that Patti Smith released her first album Horses. The advent of the New York underground punk scene was in its formative years and a new generation of music was in the streets with Patti Smith as one of the first to break through. 40 years have flown by since, and Smith is considered the Queen of Rock Poetry. Having just celebrated her 69th birthday, Patti Smith came to Seattle to perform for two evenings at the Moore Theatre to perform her now classic album live in its entirety.

As I arrived in my seat, the setup was perfect with Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” blaring over the sound system. Then another punk poet and a collaborator of Smith’s, Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” followed. Then Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire” announced the arrival of Patti Smith to the stage. As she came onto the stage, in her hand she held a vinyl copy of her album and started reading and explained, “It’s the liner notes, they used to be important”.

And with that pronouncement, Patti Smith kicked off the evening with her spoken word piece “In Excelsis Deo” that transforms into Van Morrison’s “G.L.O.R.I.A.” as her trademark punkish anthem. Smith with her band pounded out Side “A” (1) featuring her long-time guitarist Lenny Kaye, with the songs “Redondo Beach,” “Birdland,” and “Free Money”.

Then as Smith explained at the break, that we were flipping over to Side “B” (2), she then notice how the LP said Side 1, not “A,” and the banter continued on where she finally said she was going to just write an “A” over the “1”. Throughout the performance, Smith engaged with the audience, which created a great intimate atmosphere.

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As she introduced the first song from Side 2, “Kimberly”, she shared that it was a tribute to Jim Morrsion, but now 40 years on, it was a tribute to those we’ve lost, people and animals. During the remembrances, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, Robert Mapplethrope and Kurt Cobain were honored. It was a moving moment to say the least.

The rest of Side 2 played out featuring “Break It Up,” “Land,” and “Elegie,” closing this epic presentation of this classic album in a fury. Following was a gutsy rendition of “Pissing in a River”, then Patti strolled off stage and Lenny Kaye lead the band through a string of classic Velvet Underground songs finishing with “White Light/White Heat”. Patti then came back to sing “Dancing Barefoot,” “Ain’t It Strange,” and “Here Comes The Night.” The evening began to wrap up with a rousing version of Jimi Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9,” and a moving rendition of “People Have The Power.”

And finally to close it out was a wild rendition of The Who’s “My Generation,” Patti pronounced, while holding her electric guitar in the air. “Behold, the weapon of my generation,” and continued with a sonic feedback frenzy and proclaimed, “We are free people, we do not want to be run by corporations, governments, religion, science and medical, fucking medical world, people we are free!”

Lastly her antidote for us all…“Miso, you know if you have a little Miso everyday it helps destroy the pollutants out of your body”. And with those last words, Patti Smith ripped apart her guitar strings and danced into the night.

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About Peter Dervin

Peter Dervin Bio I was born in Los Angeles, raised on BOSS Radio KHJ 930AM listening to the Real Don Steele, grew up listening to Dr. Demento on KMET 94.7, graduated to Rodney Bengenheimer on KROQ-FM. Started collecting records in high school, I haven’t stopped. Moved to the Northwest in 1989. Became a disc jockey and program host on 90.7 KSER in Everett, I was there for 18 years. Owned a record shop from 1993-1995 called Orbit Records. Mike McCready from Pearl Jam bought a PJ 45 from me. I wrote music reviews for a monthly called “The Taste of Everett”. I was Editor of a trade publication called the “Northwest Landscape Professional” I had always been photographing at the concerts I’ve attended. In 2010, the Grateful Dead used my photos from 1980 on a Road Trips CD release. I then began the journey of taking my photography to the next level. I have photographed a who’s who of musicians, bands and artists. From Los Lobos to DEVO and everything in between. You can see my portfolio at www.peterdervin.com. I am excited to be working with the folks at Northwest Music Scene, American Rock Scene and American Blues Scene.