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Patti Smith at Surly (Minneapolis 08/07/21)

August 10, 2021

I am not sure how I got to be 62 as a Patti Smith fan and I have never seen her live. I saw her this past Saturday at an outdoor venue and it was transcendent – I literally had goosebumps most of the show. I am sure that part of it was circumstantial: my first real rock show in about 18 months, outside on a nice summer night, her mini tribute to Dylan, beer, pristine sound (except for the encore – more about that later), etc. Patti was the perfect welcome back to the concert scene – she was the right shaman for the right moment.

The band was fantastic: Lenny Kaye (guitar and bass) and Jay Dee Daugherty (drums) have been with Patti since day one, Tony Shanahan (keyboards, guitar and bass) has been with her a couple of decades and Jackson Smith (guitar) is her son. So, these are not hired hands – this is a band! I loved the PA mix: Jackson in left channel and Lenny in the right. It sounded great, except for one snafu: Patti’s mic was off for half the encore song. But it worked out and just made the show more intimate when Patti joked after her mic was hot again: “I was wondering, something great must of happened, you got rid of me.” Jackson is a solid guitarist and he displayed prowess in several styles. Lenny Kaye was otherworldly. Jay Dee was rock solid on the skins. Tony’s diversity of skills added awesome color.

Patti has an amazing presence on stage – she is contradictions:

  • She seem like a real person and a rock star at the same time
  • Pissed and compassionate
  • Humorous and dead serious
  • Ragged and beautiful
  • Loud and soft
  • Organic and transcendent

One interesting moment that kind of defined the experience. Patti is rocking – in full punk rock mode and she spits on the stage. After the song is finished she humorously apologizes for spitting (apparently she swore it off for Covid) and gets on her hands and knees and cleans it up with a towel. It was a weird magical moment.

I have seen a lot of shows in my life, I don’t think it is recency bias, but this was a top 25 show for me (note to self: blog post – list out those top 25). If you haven’t seen her live and you are a fan make a point to see her when you get a chance.

Below is the set list in the form of a Spotify playlist.


From → Music Reviews

  1. When I said I was going to drop by, I skimmed to see what you had going on. I seen this take and knew I had to get my ass over here. I love Patti and this was such a cool read. Her covers are the best. What a great show to see. Im living through you on this one.

    • She was so much more than I expected. I did not expect her to be so charismatic and down to earth at same time.

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