red lights

Patti Smith Bares All

Old Town School of Folk Music
July 15, 2000

Patti Smith Patti Smith

Story and Photos by Phil Bonyata

The high priestess of punk has spoken.
This lucky audience heard every emotionally stained word. Soaked with passion, blistering with philosophical rage, Patti Smith showed us why rock music can be so vital - so alive!
Headlining the Old Town School of Folk Music at Wells Park in Chicago last Saturday night, Patti Smith held court for all the damned in the audience who hoped to be redeemed. Patti sauntered onto the stage wearing a holey T-shirt, a black blazer, jeans and black boots. She ripped into "Glitter in the Night," "Summer Cannibals" and "Dancing Barefoot" in which she stripped off her boots and socks, rolled up her pant legs and jumped down and got intimate with the fans in the first few rows. At one point Patti noticed a smattering of young children in the audience and said "To all you kids here tonight, you are going to hear me say bad words, but sometimes you can use bad words in a good way." The kids might not get what she said now, but hopefully they will when they get older.
"Because the Night" showed Patti really does have melody and pop smarts. This song along with The Byrds "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" were nice breaks from some of Patti's more intense and intimate material.
At 53 Patti Smith performs with an honesty and rawness that very few performers, except for Iggy Pop and maybe a few others, are capable of.
Coming out for her encore, Patti said "I'm only doing one song, but I'm going to make it really, really long." Then she continued "This one's for my true hero Jesus Christ" and ripped into the opening chords of "Gloria."
"Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine" The people went crazy.
The band played tightly and didn't forget the bad attitude that only helped fuel this night's unforgettable performance.
Patti was born in Chicago and apparently has a special affinity to her birthplace because of her many reverent references to this vibrant city.
After nearly two hours of ground breaking music, the grounds in Wells Park began to slowly clear. The strangely quiet audience were probably contemplating that what they had just seen was truly something special!

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