Recently in one of those Facebook memes when asked to name my top seven albums I put Patti Smith's Horses on that list. Obviously lists like that change like the weather but it is a great album and fully deserving of a place on the rotating list of great albums that appear in my top n lists whenever I do them. Until last night I had never seen Patti Smith live, it was just one of those things I knew I needed to do but never actually got around to.
Last night she played at the Royal Festival Hall as part of Ornette Coleman's Meltdown and provided me with a rollercoaster ride that left me in turns frustrated and breathless... and if pushed to rank it on a scale of greatness it would fall comfortably in the 'pretty damn' section.
She opened by reading Piss Factory, maybe she opens every show with it... if she doesn't, she should, Patti's delivery just sucked the audience in. She then went on to perform a mix of songs and poetry with various guest musicians including Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Adrian Utley from Portishead, her daughter Jesse and The Master Musicians of JouJouka (who the rest of the crowd adored but who set my teeth on edge with their horrid screechy pipes).
However it was when Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra provided backing that the evening pushed relentlessy on into that 'pretty damn great' slot. Before the encore Ornette Coleman walked slowly to center stage, muttered some generic platitudes and walked slowly offstage - a bit more involvement from him would have been nice. Patti is a phenomenal woman with more charisma and energy than I could ever dream of having. I'm relieved to have ticked off another great in my gigography. And, even though she didn't play any of Horses, I'd go again.