Festival Report: Patti Smith // All Points East, London

With a commanding personal presence, it takes little more than the appearance of Patti Smith to get the crowd ready.

Already disregarding the rules of any tight timed festival set, she opens with an elaborate tribute to the All-American beat-poet, Allen Ginsberg to celebrate his birthday. Citing footnotes to Howl, Patti Smith embarks on a journey of Holy that prolongs throughout her set. “Everything is holy! Everybody’s holy! Everywhere is holy! Everyday is in eternity!”

Giving Ginsberg’s material the honour of the same passion with which she delivers her own material, Patti Smith is a performer of class, and still it’s all really the essence of her being.

Not shying away from a political statement, Smith’s ‘Citizen Ship’ has perhaps never been quite this relevant. With her heart on her sleeve, she embarks on this musical journey with a gripping sense of morality and truthfulness. The power of her words exceed the limits of music. And as she declares: “We used to be just human but when our leaders infiltrate the veins of humanity…” we guess she too hates Trump.

In an atmosphere of ambivalence and political apathy, it’s almost enlightening to hear someone daring to give a fuck. Standing on this stage as a beacon of belief, a belief that we can do better, Smith allows for statement and emotion to go hand in hand. Whether it’s an ode to her late pianist, Richard Sohl “who through the chords of ‘Gloria’ lives on” or if it’s a mammoth testimony like “we are free fucking people” – Patti Smith delivers it all with a gracious touch of humanity.

Through the cool of her rock and roll vibes, Patti Smith is a poet at heart. Her refusal to shy away from vulnerability has made her an icon in her own right. As she took to the stage in Victoria Park this afternoon, it could not be more obvious – we should all be a little more like Patti Smith.

Read our review of Nick Cave’s headline set at last nights All Points East here.

Words by Aurora Henni Krogh

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Aurora Henni Krogh

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