reviews of two 3/19/96 concerts, warfield theatre and slim's, san francisco

      by mark faigenbaum

A few comments about the Tuesday Warfield and Slim's shows: I thought the Tuesday Warfield show wasn't as intense as Monday's, but it was still a great show. The structure of the show was the same. First some poetry, then the music, then some more poetry in between. All the poetry was different from the first night; she dropped a few songs and played some others.

She dropped "R & R Nigger" and "In Heaven Blue" (a beautiful new song), and "Gloria" (Them's version) and added "Ravens" (a song written for Fred), "Rock & Roll Star" and "Land/Horses" for the encore.

For the second night in a row, "Wild Leaves" was wonderful. On Monday she dedicated it to Robert Mapplethorpe and on Tuesday to her father Grant. Verlaine's guitar work was stunning.

"Rock and Roll Star" was nearly transcendant, with all the anger and irony of the song played perfectly. "Land/Horses" was electric, even with Patti forgetting the lyrics and asking Lenny for help, but was threatened by fucking atrocious guitar work by Oliver Ray. Lenny and Toms playing managed to make it amazing anyway. 'Sorry to say that Oliver played on more songs and added nothing positive that I saw.

Slims: the band took the stage in a packed house at midnight. All the boys were there, with Lenny playing acoustic guitar on all the songs except for I think "Redondo Beach." Jay Dee had a kick drum, snare and high hat, and that's it. A far cry from the full drum setup and riser on the Warfield stage.

Patti opened with "Black Peter" and traded lead vocals with Oliver Ray. I don't know what he can do well, but it does not appear that either playing guitar or singing are among them. His singing was embarrassing, and he forgot the words to boot. Patti can get away with it; he can't. It's only a matter of time before a critic is gonna chop him to little bits.

The new songs, "In Heaven Blue" and "Ravens" took on a special sadness in the smoky late nite air. The band was very loose and backed up Lenny nicely on a "wailing souls song" that he sang.

3 or 4 times throughout the evening Verlaine led the band through the about a minute of the James Bond theme. Dum du dumm dum dum....

Patti then said, "Some guy has been asking for this for 2 days now, and just because I sing it doesn't me that I love you, so please don't start stalking me or anything"; and then went into a great "Pale Blue Eyes" with an extra verse about pissing in a sink.

Tony sang a great "So Lonely," and a rousing "R & R Nigger" was dedicated to her mom Beverly—"Thanks for conceiving me mommy"—whose birthday it was. Another Robert Hunter song—as well as "Farewell Reel," "Wild Leaves," and "Gloria"— rounded out the evening. All together over 3 1/2 hours of Patti between the 2 shows. Well worth the 17 year wait.

Copyright © Mark Faigenbaum 1996

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