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May 18, 1979 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-18

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Page 8-Friday, May 18, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Patti's boys tight and

So you want to be a rock and roll star? Well
gutrandtake somnetie and len ho~w toplay
(R. McGuinn)
Patti Smith is still learning to play
the guitar, but judging by her perfor-
mances Tuesday and Wednesday in
Ann Arbor, she's well on the way to
becoming a rock and roll star. By
opening both shows this week at Second
Chance with the McGuinn song quoted
above, the Patti Smith Group turned
the Byrds' jetstream cynicism into a
joyous celebration of rock and roll am-
bition. It's no coincidence that this tune

replaces Lou Reed's foreboding "We're
Gonna Have a Real Good Time
Together" as the band's standard
opener; it signals the changes in ap-
proach and attitude that characterize
its recent concerts and albums., In
short, the Patti Smith Group is going
for it.
"We're gonna play the new material
you heard last time," Patti tells the
crowd, "and you've gotta decide if
we've improved." Indeed, by now
everyone in the area even remotely in-
terested has had the chance to check
this group out. By integrating newer
songs with now familiar older material,
she retains a measure of control over

audience reaction, she lost in earlier,
chaotic concerts. If you saw Patti Smith
up to about six months ago, you know
what I'm talking about. Stalking the
stage like a woman possessed, she
would taunt and tantalize the crowd.
But mostly she would talk; a stream-of-
consciousness flow of "poetry," off-the-
wall ideology, blatant insults. Backed
up with dynamite rock and roll, it made
for a viable, potentially dangerous art
form. The gig I caught in February 1978
exploded into a number of violent con-
frontations between band members and
overzealous fans.
BUT THAT was more than a year
ago, and Patti isn't a punk anymore.

No.1 In Heaven


D +
Bad For Me

She has come full circle and become
benign, taking an "aw, shucks, folks'
approach, going to far as trtell a doting
audience that she loves them. The
significance of all this is that PSG is
now a tight, dynamically professional
outfit. The defiance and artistic risks of
earlier shows may have subsided, but
so has the bull.
Patti is still one of the most arresting
singers around. She may not confront
the audience verbally anymore, but
visually she's there, looking her obser-
vers in the eye. Patti Smith is the kind
of person who commita herself totally
to whatever she's into (witness the flow
of compliments about Detroit, her new
home). It's impossible to hear this
woman sing and not relate to her rock
and roll in a very personal way.
The group behind her is a veritable
rock and roll encyclopedia, spanning
the range from Elvis ("Jailhouse
Rock"), mid-sixties pop ("Mr. Tam-
bourine Man"), Psychedelia (Patti's
improvised solos), to modern raunch
("Pumpin' My Heart"), and power pop
("Because the Night" and "Frederic")
with ease. Familiar riffs crop up
everywhere, yet in context, they come
across as refreshing and vital. As
knowledgeable as they are musically,
the band members' strongest asset
may be their sense of fun, typified by
Lenny Kaye's stirring renditions of
"Secret Agent Man."
Perhaps the most startling develop-
ment in PSG is consistency. Playing
two sets a night lends the band a chance
to stretch out and include some com-
pelling rock/poetry fission such as
"Birdland" and "Horses" along with
the more accessible (not necessarily
commercial) rock songs.
'THIS SONG is the most requested
song on the radio in San Francisco right
now," Fred "Sonic" Smith tells a
slightly impatient audience Wednesday
night. As Patti keeps saying, it's a
shame that Detroit radio has consisten-
tly ignored "City Slang." Maybe since
Fred has done such a good job teaching
Patti guitar and clarinet, she could
reciprocate and help him land a record
contract. There's a huge amount of
talent going to waste as he plays the
same bars night after night.
No doubt inspired by the fast-paced
pounding and raw, honest force of
Sonic's Rendevous Band, the PSG set
Wednesday evening was straightfor-
ward rock and roll - to the point of Pat-
ti introducing the song "Redondo
Beach," a disjointed, evocative first-
person account of a gay sexual encoun-
ter, by saying "Redondo Beach is a
place where women love other
women." Subtlety be damned as long as
the beat's there and everyone's on
his/her feet. As the concert culminated
with an ecstatic encore of "My
Generation," I thought of Keith Moon
and the kind of unpretentious en-
thusiasm that is the heart of great rock
and roll. Patti Smith knows this also
and so expanding her audience is02
natural move to make.
"Money to gain and the public ac-
claim - don't forget what you are,
you're a rock and roll star."

Turn You To Love
9 ,pes
$7.9W list RJ
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Feel The I


SUN ; 12-8
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