What we learnt from Patti Smith

smithFor those who don’t necessarily follow the arts scene, the Patti Smith concert was yet another night for the books in terms of music, with the legendary Patti Smith giving a two-hour intimate concert to a packed hall at University.

I won’t be doing my usual music review on the printed paper, because it would be very boring to read, consisting mostly of “Wow. I want more. Wow. I want more” x 400. I doubt my editor would be amused.

Instead, I will focus on other good things to come from the concert.

1. The ‘no photos’ rule worked. There was a bit of muttering on social media yesterday morning , because the organizer dared lay down the law. No selfies. No videos. No mobiles. No talking. The law was laid down in a pretty no nonsense manner, which is probably the reason why many protested. I myself would have put it differently and everyone would have probably ignored me. In this case, everyone was cowed into obeying… and good thing too.

There is a time and a place for whipping out your camera. A million phone screens at a Rammstein concert wouldn’t bother me, probably because they wouldn’t take too long to be crushed underfoot. But the same thing at a seated, relatively small concert where every nuance of Ms Smith’s voice, every guitar stroke mattered…it would have ruined the experience

We all got our chance to take photos during the (superb) encores. I took a couple and then joined everyone else jumping. Everyone was happy. Never again will I complain when an organiser lays down the law.

2. Patti Smith rocks at comebacks.

“That was perfect,” someone shouted out.

“Thank you, but only Elvis is perfect.”

(She was wrong, that was indeed perfect)

Then she whips out her specs and someone shouts “join the club”.

“I invented the club,” she replies.

And so it went on, the constant interaction keeping the audience on its toes. And none of it sounding forced. It is impossible not to fall in love a little bit with this woman.

3. There is also a time and a place for heckling.

Shout out a couple of things once, or twice, it’s fine. But then shut up. This was not stand up comedy. Neither are you James Joyce, so don’t force your stream of consciousness on us. We don’t care what you want to say to her, just shut up and listen.

Oh, and the continuous attempt to start off the slow clapping? Pathetic. Is no-one capable of staying quiet and just appreciating the experience nowadays? Do we continuously have to make ourselves seen or heard? What an annoying sense of self-importance.

Finally, to the woman who rudely asked “are you going to play Because the Night”, it’s a free country so I respect your right to make a fool of yourself. I hope you support my right to make fun of you forever. This is me, pointing my finger and laughing.

4. The lady isn’t only awesome at comebacks, she is also an amazing human being.

Her jokes were genuine. She was warm. And the most ‘awwww’ moment of the gig was getting Martha Theuma, one of our young, up-and-coming musicians, to join her on stage on the guitar during the encores.

It was amazing not just because she got her up there, which was lovely enough in itself. It took the gig to another level also because Ms Smith didn’t use the moment for the wow effect and then forget all about her guest.

Instead, she mentioned her in the band line-up at the end, she called her back to hug her, she continuously interacted with her on stage. The woman has class.

Compare that to the behaviour of Enrique Iglesias a few years back when he took part in the Isle of MTV concert. Yuck. I shouldn’t be mentioning his name in the same post as this, but the comparison needs to be made: anyone remember how he plucked some teenager out of the crowd and kissed her? It wasn’t a peck on the cheek. Because, you know, I’m Enrique Iglesias and it is fine to paw at some swooning teenager on stage.

Yesterday’s interaction with the audience was such a far cry from the disgusting arrogance and falsity of that incident that I thought hey, there’s hope after all.

5. Once a legend, always a legend.

Watching Ms Smith perform live, it was easy to figure out why she is the legend she is. The woman’s talent is amazing of course. And yes, she can still sing the hell out of anything. But it is when you add her powerful stage presence and charisma that it all makes sense. Of course she created a movement. She is a movement within herself.

6. Gambling sometimes pays off.

No matter how big a music legend Ms Smith is, getting a name who is not necessarily what I like to call ‘the popcorn variety’ doesn’t necessarily work out here, the market is too small. In this case, it worked. A thank you to the organizers for taking the risk is in order – not only Kinemastik, responsible for yesterday’s concert, but other small promoters like HairyAmp and Stagecoach, who never give up. May others follow suit.

This blog was first published on www.timesofmala.com