So, Patti Smith played Cadogan Hall. This sounds incongruous, but according to her gloss of Mapplethorpe in Just Kids he’d have fit right into the Sloane Square crowd. Even though as a visual artist he had patrons who wanted mithering, while she had a job and then a paying public*, he was a killer snob. I think I reviewed that his social climbing, in her account, divided them more than his bisexuality. I can well imagine that. But I have lost the blog post in question. How did I manage that?
By chance the gig was also the 100th anniversary of William S. Burroughs, which coloured it. The location made it necessary to play against type. We got a reading from the Wild Boys, who aren’t round there very often, except perhaps as single spies. The cash point I used had a big sticker for Bond & Mayfair, London Escorts, after all.
The ticket – I’m looking at it now – advertised “an evening of words and music”. This meant a succession of readings, songs, and anecdotes. This sounds potentially awful. A churlish view would be that it might be like listening to the last member of the 1st Punks regimental association, and you do get a fair few tales of the Chelsea Hotel. That said, they’re her right, and a lot would work as pure standup.
This is beside the point, though. Fools would come for stories of the leftover Beats, good as they are. The pacing was expert, building steadily in both music – louder – and words – more extreme, and then flipping the show into a focused, intense blitz through the best of the songs. The band is tight as hell and loud. Unlike a lot of rock, the songs were built for dancers. The voice is still gripping, probably the most working-class white voice in America. A pome might quote Pawl Vallery, and damn right too. Us “English dogs” were called on to howl and we did.
So, a raucous and dance-minded blitz from a performer of deep autodidactic reading and epic stage command. Get in!
*We were a paying public, and some