review of moma benefit concert, 11/7/96, nyc

[contributed by J. Daly]

Tonight's MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) performance was so amazing, I don't know where to start. There seemed to be three crowds: in the first 20 rows or so were the old and rich crowd -- probably MOMA benefactors. Then, there were us over-30 ticket buyers, and towards the back, the under 30 1/2 price ticket holders (tickets were sold at half-price for those under 30).

As the monied crowed strolled by me to the front seats, I thought they were in for a rude awakening (and BOY, was I looking forward to it!). I don't think they really had any idea who they were coming to see.

Patti entered the stage, looking ominous, wearing the same black hooded cape she wore to last week's CB's Gallery show. First, she said a polite good evening and, still wearing the hood, read a beautiful poem by Artaud. At the end, she spit on the stage (then I knew Patti had arrived!).

Patti was neatly dressed in a black jacket, white silk shirt, and tie; sort of like what she wore on the Arista TV show a few years back. Lenny and Oliver wore black pants and white shirts.

Throughout the show, she alternately read Artaud's works and her own. The latter included "Piss Factory" (which she dedicated to the Museum staff who are in the middle of strike and were picketing outside. Patti noted that the Museum was a wonderful place to be and she was sure that management would be fair), "Jeanne d'Arc," "Easter," "Babelogue," "Neo Boy," and "Y." Lenny and Oliver played on acoustic versions of "Dancing Barefoot," "Southern Cross," "Walking Blind," a new song written by Oliver called "Phenobarbital and God," "Gone Again," and "Wild Leaves." They finished with an electric version of "Rock n' Roll Nigger" -- an unusual version, with Lenny and Oliver playing feverishly on their electric guitars (Lenny on his Stratocaster, Oliver on a Gibson hollow body) at relatively low volume but with plenty of "About A Boy"/"Fireflies"-style feedback. Patti included a rap in the middle).

Throughout the show, Patti spoke about Artaud, about herself, and about the museum. She spoke more than at any other performance of hers that I've seen. She was very witty, as usual, and charmed even the rich front-rows crowd. I was really happy to see a grandmotherly lady a few rows ahead of me practically rolling in the aisles at Patti's comments. Patti was well aware of the mixed crowd she had, getting quite a laugh when she announced "Well, whatever happens tonight....remember that it benefits the museum!"

At one point, after having spit a few times, Patti explained "for anyone who is concerned about the carpet" on stage, she doesn't spit as a statement of any kind, rather its just that when she reads or sings her mouth fills up and she doesn't know what else to do with it. She related that this has been a source of embarrassment for her mother for years.

At the end of the show, Patti got a rousing standing ovation, with the front rows were the first to jump up! It was amazing to see how Patti, reading about piss and seed and wanting her cherry squashed, managed to loosen up THAT crowd, and won most of them over.

She came back alone for a brief encore, reading a short "Prayer."

After the show, there was a reception. Patti was charming and friendly to everybody in the crowd. She was surrounded by both her usual fans, and some of the older tuxedoed and jeweled crowd. Everybody wanted to say hello.

There were a few grumblers rolling their eyes at the experience they just had, but most of the crowd young and old, seemed very pleased with the show. Patti had won them over.

While this was certainly not a rocker like the September Central Park concert, it was one of the moving Patti shows I've ever seen.

Copyright © J. Daly 1996

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