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Review: Patti Smith headlines Brooklyn Steel, celebrates her birthday

On December 30, Patti Smith and her band headlined New York’s Brooklyn Steel, which coincided with her 77th birthday.

Patti Smith
Patti Smith. Photo Credit: Tom Dumont
Patti Smith. Photo Credit: Tom Dumont

On December 30, Patti Smith and her band headlined New York’s Brooklyn Steel, which coincided with her 77th birthday.

Her rock band includes lead guitarist Lenny Kaye, drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, Tony Shanahan on bass and keyboards, her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith on vocals and keyboards, and her son, guitarist Jackson Smith.

As soon as Smith took the Brooklyn Steel stage, she bowed to the crowd and kicked off her set with “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” where she tipped her hat to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group The Byrds.

She took her fans on a trip down memory lane to her seminal studio album “Horses” with “Free Money,” which was sheer bliss, and with Lenny Kaye on acoustic guitar, she segued to the haunting “Ghost Dance.” Equally noteworthy was the harking ballad “Guiding Light.”

Smith honored Bob Dylan by covering “Masters of War,” which lyrically, was a protest tune against the Cold War nuclear arms. It was followed by “Nine,” which had a folk and Americana vibe to it.

Her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, wearing a T-shirt with her mom’s name brought out a birthday cake (in honor of her 77th birthday), where everybody sang “Happy Birthday” to the “Godmother of Punk.”

“Thank you everybody,” Smith said. “That was awesome. Happy birthday to me. I hope everything — at least the smallest beautiful thing— that you all wish for happens for you tonight. Thank you so much for being here.”

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Smith immediately broke into “Dancing Barefoot,” where she was joined by Jesse Paris, and noted that this song “is for the girls.”

Lenny Kaye sang lead on the “77 Sunset Strip” into and theme song Intro Theme Song,” as well as on “Two Sevens Clash,” where Kaye showcased his rich, mellow vocals.

She continued with the stirring “Ain’t It Strange” and soulful cover of Charlotte Day Wilson’s “Work.”

Smith strapped an acoustic guitar on her and serenaded the fans to “Beneath The Southern Cross,” and she subsequently read aloud Giacomo Puccini’s “Vissi d’arte,” which translates into “I Lived for Art.”

After delivering an expressive rendition of the classic “Pissing in a River,” she closed with “Land” and “Gloria,” both of which were from her “Horses” album, where she left her fans wanting to hear more.

Encore

For her encore, Smith returned with the tune that everybody wanted to hear… her signature tune “Because the Night,” which was heartfelt, and she dedicated it to “Brooklyn,” which was a real treat, and the crowd went nuts. She co-wrote this song with Bruce Springsteen.

The stage backdrop featured a photo of Smith and her late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith. Lenny Kaye nailed the guitar solos during this performance while Smith proved to be a true song stylist.

Smith closed on an inspirational note with the captivating “People Have the Power,” where she was joined by Jesse Paris Smith.

The Verdict

Overall, Patti Smith was able to take her audience on a journey through time with her music, which has spanned multiple decades and multiple sub-genres of rock and roll.

To this day, her breakthrough studio album “Horses” is credited for changing the molding the rock landscape into what it is today. She is still at the top of her game musically.

For nearly two hours, Smith put on an unforgettable concert performance, and she commanded the stage well. The audience knew that they were in the presence of a true living rock and roll queen, storyteller, and poet. It is recommended that one sees her live when she comes to town with her band.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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