September 16, 2019
Words: April Jendrasiak
Photos: Paul Jendrasiak
Greeted by her most loyal fans, Patti Smith, The Godmother of Punk took the stage Monday night at the historic Royal Oak Music Theatre to a nearly sold-out show. Joining her on stage were her bandmates; Lenny Kaye – guitar, Tony Shanahan – bass guitar, Jay Dee Daughtrey – drums, her son Jackson Smith – guitar, and toward the end of the evening, her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith on keys. The stage was lit with vibrant blues and reds while several dozen fresh white roses elegantly lay atop and in front of the drum kit.
At the open, Smith entered the stage beaming as her wild grey hair tamed by two braids laying restlessly on either side of her head. She started the evening by reciting “People Have the Power” in the poetic verse before moving into Jimi Hendrix’s’ “Are You Experienced?“ As a longtime fan, it only seemed appropriate she welcomed the spirit of Jimi to the stage.
Smith rocked the stage with hits like “Ghost Dance”, “Free Money”, and “Because the Night” while intermittently spitting between taking sips of black coffee and shoving down the mic stand. She took the time to remind fans to use their voices and speak out against the injustices of the world.
Toward the end of the evening, Smith paid homage to her late husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith of MC5 with a powerful rendition of “People Have the Power”, a song inspired by Fred while Smith was pregnant with their daughter, Jesse. Smith welcomed Jesse to join her on stage to play the keys and as Smith and her son Jackson glanced side stage waiting on Jesse, Smith with a sideways smile commented, “We treat the stage like our kitchen”. A certain level of laughter and familiarity filled the room at that moment. Anyone attending the show would agree, it was impossible not to feel like part of the Smith family, if only for that one evening, in that one moment.
For the encore, Smith and the band returned to the stage to perform, “Gloria”, a cross between her poem “Oath” and the Van Morrison classic that appeared on her debut studio album, Horses. The energy of the crowd was incredible. Fans were on their feet, arms were in the air, and everyone in the theatre was singing at the top of their lungs, “G-L-O-R-I-A”.
Not a person in the audience that night needed a reminder that she is and will always be, the Godmother of Punk.