Monday, July 27, 2009

Instrument of War

Fuji Rock 2009
Patti Smith (Rock)

Bob Dylan says the true artist is always in the process of becoming, and that's the case with Patti Smith. In 1977 she was a raw performance artist who channelled bohemian feminism and rock lore to emerge with a blend of quasi-religious street poetry and punk rock.

Since then she has continued to produce inspiring music in the face of considerable personal challenges. Now aged 62, looking wise and embattled, she's better than ever.

Patti brings Fuji Rock a powerful message of empowerment, eco-awareness and political action. I think many Japanese women who were not aware of Patti will have been inspired by her energy and call to action.

She takes to the stage smiling and waving at the crowd, raising everyone's spirits in the face of insufferable weather conditions. It's been pouring continuously since the night before but here's Patti to rain love on us all - her humanity and empathy weave a magical spell over a damp but enthusiastic crowd.

The performance starts with Dancing Barefoot, a personal favorite of mine. It's one of many highlights in a dynamic, spiritual performance alongside classics like Because the Night, People Have the Power and others. Today is Haile Selassie's birthday, so Ghost Dance is dedicated to him. Then an amazing Rock 'n' Roll Nigger is dedicated to Michael Jackson.

Patti's band is superb, featuring long-time mainstay Lenny Kaye on guitar and the excellent Tony Shannahan on bass and keyboards. They spur Patti on as she urges the crowd to political and personal action, crying, "The electric guitar is the only instrument of war we need!"

For a moment, even I believe it.

We briefly run into Patti at the after-show interview booth, where she is charming and amiable and still calling for her fans to challenge their governments and systems of power - a pretty tall order in Japan. Nevertheless there she is hollering, "We are alone and we are free! The people have the power!"

Patti Smith "Dream of Life" Movie Trailer

1 comment:

ifd66 said...

great photos