Patti Smith comes out, a black frock coat and vest despite the fact that the thermometer is close to 30 degrees and, as always, she sets out to delve into the memory of her old heroes and her dead poets. Whiter hair, a smile from ear to ear and a cup of tea to try to protect your throat from the embarrassment of Barcelona. Also as always, because the repetition does not necessarily have to be bad, she starts by traveling to the days of filth and fury of the seventies to entrust herself for the millionth time to the routine of glory.
The lights go out and 'Redondo Beach' plays. The beautiful suicides and the smoke of reggae as a prelude to the sting of punk. "It's time for us to do our fucking work!", He will bellow later, with the audience already surrendered and ecstatic.
And on his return to Barcelona six years after his last performance, also at the Jardins de Pedralbes Festival, his work is none other than the spelling of glory and rock and roll cum laude. The (fairy) godmother of punk, sitting down and showing off legendary stripes. Holy routine, yes.
At this point, it is true, it is relatively easy to know which side a Patti Smith performance will fall on: embarked for years on a literary crusade that has ended up reducing her studio recordings to a minimum - her latest album, 'Banga', is from 2012-, the author of 'Horses' has been going around the same concert for a few years now. The versions change, the altarpiece of fallen idols, but the skeleton remains. Namely: the great cramp of 'Free Money', the roll of 'Pissing In A River', the nightly epic of 'Because The Night', the spread of 'Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)', the final energy shot of 'People Have The Power'...
No shortage in Barcelona, although in reality the concert really starts to take off when Smith knocks on Bob Dylan's door and swipes 'The Wicked Messenger'. The temperature rises and the electricity grows. Smith Gorge, at times ragged, erupts, spewing lava and sandstone. From the guitars, Lenny Kaye and the singer's son, Jackson Smith, are merciless with the Duluth son and return the song to him in a rag. Masterly. Then there will be, also by Dylan, 'One Too Many Mornings', an acoustic and tender piece that Smith dispatches alone with his son. The same emotion, yes, although a completely different package.
Granted, it's still a bit disconcerting to listen to songs like 'Free Money' and Smith's anti-corporate rants at one of the city's most opulent festivals, but 'Dancing Barefoot' and 'Don't Say Nothing' do. all much more digestible. Also the intensity with which she remembers her fallen (Allen Ginsberg's howl, that 'Nine' dedicated to Tupac Shakur on the 25th anniversary of his death) or seeing her dancing on one side of the stage while the band gives her a vocal break attacking 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' by the Stooges and 'Stone Free' by Jimi Hendrix. Sparks fly from the stage and Smith, at 75, moves with more agility than most in the audience.
"Feel your blood, feel your fucking freedom," he exclaims just before finishing off the job and opening wide the chest of greatest hits. Minutes before, the night had run aground in a showy 'Beneath the Southern Cross' extended beyond reason, but now 'Because The Night', 'Pissing In a River', 'Gloria' and 'People Have The Power' and, wow, the public feels the blood and the freedom, also the glory, running through their veins.