Patti Smith sang all the songs in order from her debut album “Horses” at the Moore Theatre Monday night, as well as a host of others. It was a special evening, writes freelancer Charles R. Cross.
Patti Smith turned 69 last week, but at the Moore Theatre Monday (Jan. 4), she seemed decades younger. That’s in part because Smith has always brought youthful vigor to her performances.
But it was also because this tour is her hommage to her 1975 debut “Horses.” She played the album in order, and joked halfway through that she was turning it over from side A to B.
Songs like “Gloria” and “Redondo Beach” have long been concert staples for Smith, but lesser known gems such as “Free Money” made this night feel special. “Land” was the show’s powerhouse, with Smith’s poetry improvisations woven into the infectious beat.
Smith added the line “black lives matter” to the song, a reference to a gaffe she made at her November Town Hall reading, when she appeared to be unaware of the movement.
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Smith said she intended to play “Horses” without comment, but she couldn’t help herself. Before “Break It Up” she told a story about Jim Morrison as an angel, and before “Elegie,” she talked about Jimi Hendrix.
When “Horses” was finished, Smith played a few recent songs, but also included some covers. She only seemed her age when she complained about her iPhone, while trying to dial Michael Stipe on speaker to wish him a happy birthday.
Stipe showed up at one of Smith’s “Horses” shows, and some had hoped he might do the same in Seattle, but he did not. Smith sang R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” in his honor, and “If 6 was 9” for Hendrix.
Smith also added a roll call of deceased loved ones into “Elegie,” including Hendrix and Kurt Cobain Since the deaths of her husband and brother in 1994, loss has been central to Smith’s oeuvre, but her live “Horses” illustrated that it was already a theme in many of her songs.
Back when “Horses” came out, Smith almost certainly never imagined a time when she’d need to shift the lyrics of The Who’s “My Generation.” But shift them she did.
“I hope I get even older,” she sang, closing the night.