Monday, October 16, 2006

Patti Smith @CBGB, Oct. 15th

(Sorry in advance if this entry is a little all over the place...I am still reeling from the many thoughts/emotions...impossible to get them all down...and I'm still sick, dammit!)

I got a bad head cold Thursday night. Friday and Saturday were a blur. I even had to postpone my kung fu testing. I had to miss my friend John's Band Saturday night. But I was damned if I was gonna miss the LAST. SHOW. EVER. at the world famous CBGB's. Granted, it is a shitty venue, blah blah blah, but what made me determined to be there was la Grande Dame herself, Patti Smith, would be performing. After all, she is the raison-d'etre for this Gigoblog. She is my Entry Numero Uno. So leading up to Sunday night, I downed a steady diet of Theraflu, chicken soup, green tea, hot water with lemon, ginger and honey, and a box of dark chocolate Raisinets (and those were damn good).

Last Show at CBGB, October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, et al.

The line wrapped around the block. Wawa and I got into line shortly before 8pm, and we didn't set foot in the club until about 9:35. We did get our obligatory David Fricke sighting, however, as Fricke made his way past us to get in line. By the time we got in, the place was already packed to the gills (who knows how the people behind us fit in!). We were annoyed to hear Patti already playing, but luckily she was only about a song or two deep into the more acoustic/spoken portion of the evening.

Because Wawa was hurting from the Atlantic City/Wedding weekend extravaganza, I left him behind to hang with Little Stevie Van Zandt a/k/a Silvio Dante, while I wove my way forward. Now, I dunno if you've ever been to the shithole that was CBGB. It is long and narrow, and not conducive to maneuvering. I dunno if I had a head cold, or if I was just sick in the head, but I was gonna see Patti, dammit, and not be stuck with the talkers in the back. As people constantly shifted in the crowd, I managed to roll my way all the way front within five feet of the stage. Sweet!

The opening acoustic portion definitely felt lower energy. People were restless and still figuring out positioning, so people were cranky and talked over the music. Patti and her usual crew -- Lenny Kaye on guitar, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums, and Tony Shanahan -- played an unusual mix of songs, some of Patti's, and several covers of bands that have graced CB's stage in the past, including "Marquee Moon" (with Richard Lloyd of Television), "Pale Blue Eyes," and "The Tide is High." And, as I predicted, Flea joined the band on bass.

After a 20 minute break, the band came back on stage and they picked up the beat. They opened up with the dub beat of "Redondo Beach" and dipped heavily into Horses for the remainder of the evening. I particularly was thrilled by "Free Money" (and maybe I don't know how to use YouTube correctly yet, but it turned the resolution of my video to shit):

They did a rousing version of "Horses" with a few "Hey, Ho, Let's go!"s mixed in with G-L-O-R-I-A! Glorrrrrrriiaaaaa!

Patti was loose and funny, alternating between telling tons of anecdotes and tearing up the stage. Numerous times she had to put on glasses to read papers with lyrics she didn't know, sometimes even for her own stuff. How meta (is that the word I want?) it was seeing her read a book of her own words with a picture of her younger self on the cover. I gotta say it again -- for someone who's nearly sixty, she's got the chi. She's got more chi than most people I know. I cannot begin to explain how deeply I am in awe of her.

Last Show at CBGB, October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, et al.

Last Show at CBGB, October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, et al.

I guess because this was a tribute to the great history of CBGB, Patti Smith and her crew not only shredded their songs but kicked it up for the other great bands of rock 'n roll. They knocked out "Gimme Shelter" by the Stones, did a Ramones medley while Patti took a bathroom break (yes, she announced that and I hope Sirius satellite radio picked that up), and what's become a standard for them now, the Who's "My Generation" (again, apologies for the shitty resolution):

Last Show at CBGB, October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, et al.

Last Show at CBGB, October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, et al.

At midnight, we sang Happy Birthday to Flea! :)

To end the night, perhaps most appropriately, the band closed with "Elegie" from Horses, during which Patti read a list of those who had passed. I dunno if it was the names that she was reading, or the fact that CB's was shutting down, or a little bit of both, but she teared up, that strong, tough woman warrior:

The night was long and uneven. Maybe people were hoping for a little more surprise guest fanfare. I was squashed amongst more people than I would normally care for (including this one ape who insisted on pogoing with his elbow inches from my head), but the night was magic, man! It was so magic, that for the 3-1/2 hours I was in CBGB, I didn't have to blow my nose once. My head, my body fed off of the energy of Patti, the crowd, the nostalgia, the history of it all. So fuckin' happy I went. Especially cos I got this awesome shot of a smiling, happy Patti, so unlike the scowling punk goddess we typically see:

Last Show at CBGB, October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, et al.


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