babel-list reviews of 6/21-22/96 irving plaza concerts, new york


[contributed by Michael Kaplan]

Tonight's Irving Plaza gig was a totally incredible show that leaves me feeling horribly inarticulate but 100-percent adrenalized. From Patti's opening line—"Is that a banana in your pocket? Or did you miss me?"—to a beautiful closing with "Farewell Reel," it was just amazing and wonderful and vibrant. The really cool thing is that I think she was as good tonight as she's ever been. There was nothing nostalgic about it—even when she did "Free Money" and "Horses." If I have a complaint, it's all the mid-70s Max's/CBGB music that was played before she came out. I mean, I love Television and Mink DeVille and the Ramones, but it made me feel like I was at some bad reunion tour where all the people could revel in the music that they loved 20 years ago. And, as far as Patti goes, this was not the case. I know it's a minor quibble—but that's how great the show was! No complaints! I loved when she put her foot up on the monitor and leaned into the audience. Everybody was so happy to see her. The vibe was fantastic.

Okay. Now a few of my personal favorite moments:

A great reading of "Piss Factory"

Watching her son, at the side of the stage, with his guitar unplugged and playing along, like he was practicing with the hope that Lenny would let him play on a few more songs

A beautiful "Dancing Barefoot" (I've always loved that song)

Transcendent version of "About A Boy"—with ultra cool improv, as somebody has already mentioned, you do feel like she slips inside Cobain's head

"Free Money" dedicated to Richard Sohl

Rocked out "Gone Again" and "Summer Cannibals"—eat EAT EAT

"Horses" bleeding into "Rock n Roll Nigger"

Okay, so I had a lot of favorite moments. One other thing: Seeing Patti tonight reminded me (and left me feeling the same way as I did then) of the first time I saw her at the Meadowbrook Dinner Theater in suburban NJ when I was in 10th grade and Horses had just been released. Tomorrow night I go again, but with my wife who's never seen Patti before (but loves Gone Again). Can't wait for her reaction. She's going to freak.

Copyright © Michael Kaplan 1996


[contributed by ECG]

having never seen an entire show of her's (only the annotated version with Dylan back in Dec.), i didn't have any particular notions in my head before hand on what to expect...needless to say, i was pleasantly pleased. no opening act—just Patti for just under 2 hours... sister Kimberly was allowed center stage for a song, Jackson joined the band for "Smoke on the Water"...and then a curious 2-3 minute break (definitely not a set 1, set 2 break thingy). Lenny on lead vocals for a song (dedicated to the 20th anniversary of their show at the St. Marks Church ?). the last song of the night, "Farewell Reel," was performed solo—just Patti and her guitar. the crowd seemed to be in a trance—very respectful, very quiet, very happy...beaming faces lit up the stage...

audience member: "love you Patti"
Patti replies: "i am so well loved lately, that i am turning into a walking Hallmark card"

peace and babel.

Copyright © ECG 1996


[contributed by J. Daly]

Tonight's Irving Plaza show, which was over 2 hours long, was filmed by Arista.

She was great. Looked great, voice was great, and had the energy of a horney 14 year old...She was cute and funny and cocky (as usual).

Clive Davis was there (she thanked him for his support for the past years)

The songs she did were (not sure I got the right order...)

Piss Factory (reading)
Ravens (with sister Kimberly)
then Kimberly did a song (sounded good)
Redondo Beach
Smoke on the Water (w/Jackson on lead guitar, Lenny on lead vocals, Patti on
..."Fire in the SKY")
Beneath the Southern Cross
Wicked Messenger (a bit more kick to it than the album version)
Ghost Dance
Dancing Barefoot
About a Boy (WOW! Much better than the album version...she went into a Patti-trance—you know, when she seems possessed—and did a spoken word thing where you almost felt like you were in Cobain's head when he had the gun pointed at it....I don't know how else to describe it...)
Free Money (!!!!!!!!!!!!)
When Doves Cry (yes, a cover of the Prince song)
Summer Cannibals (dedicated to Michael Stipe)
People Have the Power (spoken), leading right into:
Gone Again

First Encore:

Wild Leaves
Horses (new spoken intro) segued into R & R Nigger

Second Encore:

Farewell Reel

(Lenny also did a song on his own in there somewhere, but I don't know the name).

Copyright © J. Daly 1996


[contributed by J. Daly]

Patti was just as good, maybe even better, on Saturday night.

While she wasn't in quite as jubilant a mood tonight (a bit less joking around with the audience), she was hot.

They changed the order of the songs around a bit, adding a few rockers at the beginning (last night, she did 3 or 4 acoustic numbers....and the show gradually built to feverish finisht). It worked even better tonight.

Tonight, she did "Becase the Night" and "Wing" (which she didn't do on Friday). She dropped "Ghost Dance" and "Wild Leaves" from the set.

Great set, amazing lady. "About a Boy" has become my favorite new song (the live version really comes alive!). And, like last night, she finished the first encore with "Horses/Nigger." Incredible.

Also, tonight Sam Shepard and Patti's mom were in the audience. Patti dedicated a song to Sam, and Lenny dedicated his song to him as well (telling the audience that it all began 25 years ago five blocks south of Irving Plaza (at St. Mark's Church) where Sam suggested to Patti that she might need a guitar player backing her up...).

Patti welcomed her mother and said some nice things about her...and said "I love you Mommy."

Tonight I was up fairly close and could see the side stairwell, where Jackson was peeking out several times before the show began...and several times during the show. I also saw a young girl run down the stairs and look at the show a few times (Jesse?).

Jackson did a hot solo on "Smoke on the Water"...much hotter than last night!

Once, at the beginning of "Because the Night," Patti forgot the words....the audience sang louder and reminded her of the next line....she thanked the audience, but she stopped and started over anyway....She told us to sing along so that if she screwed up again we could help her out with the lines again...It was really cute. It reminded me that Patti and her audience are like good friends. It's good to have her back.

Now, she's on to Europe. I'm excited for her, because she always got bigger audiences in Europe. I hope she has a really successful summer.

Then, she moves back to New York!!!

Copyright © J. Daly 1996

JUNE 21-22

[contributed by J. Daly]

I saw Patti last summer at Central Park, last December opening in NY for Dylan, and this weekend.

It was an amazing transformation.

Last summer, she did a reading at Central Park, and performed 3 songs, along with Lenny on acoustic guitar. She also had Janet Hamill do a reading, and her sister sang with her. She called it her friends and family show. Patti was sweet and wonderful, but insecure. She was incredibly touched by the audience's love for her. She seemed surprised that so many people showed up and remembered her ((I believe she said as much). She kept forgetting the words to the songs (she did "People Have the Power," "Ghost Dance" and "Farewell Reel" then). Once, during "Farewell Reel," which she had just written and hadn't completely learned yet, she broke down in tears. . . and barely finished the song. It was an amazing experience—sort of a reunion with friends, more than a concert. She was testing the waters...Everyone there seemed to love seeing her. I sure did.

Then, in December, when she opened for Dylan, she had, of course, added the band. Her reading of "Piss Factory" was strong and confident, as was her performances of "Dancing Barefoot" and "R & R Nigger." There were glimpses of the old Patti in these performaces, and the new Pati was there too, singing "Walking Blind" and "Southern Cross." The band was good, but everything hadn't quite come together yet. She was great in that show, but it wasn't her audience for the most part, it was Dylan's. It wasn't quite the same as the summer before. I enjoyed the show, but was angry at the audience (typical opening act stuff: while she certainly had some of her fans there, and won over a few more, there were also latecomers filing in during her performance and a few disinterested people talking). But then, a Patti audience and Dylan audience are different (I walked out on Dylan after a few songs, by the way, he was lousy. He was just going through the motions—no energy—no emotion. I couldn't tell one song from another—compare that to Patti's verison of "Wicked Messenger" where she feels the lyrics when she sings "if you can't bring good news don't bring any".

Irving Plaza: Now, whew! The band is together, well rehearsed, and Patti is hot hot hot. Tony, Lenny and Jaydee are a tight rhythm unit, Oliver adds some nice touches. Last December, when Verlaine sat on the side of the stage adding a few licks here and there—it didn't seem like he was really part of the band. Now, while he may be sitting on the side of the stage, his lead is front and center. Patti is back 100%, a perfect blend of contrasts: confident but shy, humble but cocky, she handles a screaming rocker and a mellow ballad as if she was made for each. Her voice and performance ability has grown incredibly over the years. Who else could be the beaming proud Mama at the side of the stage watching her son play guitar one minute....and a ranting demon spitting on the stage and climbing into Kurt Cobain's brain in that barn the next minute? Yet, all these sides of Patti are real. None of it comes off phony or rehearsed—it just makes her seem like a real, complete, person.

Welcome back!

Copyright © J. Daly 1996


[contributed by Michael Kaplan]

As everybody has already noted, last night's show was incredible. It was doubly incredible for me, though. I brought my wife, Melodie, who had never seen Patti before and never really understood why I am so enamored (that may not be quite the right word, but you know what I mean) with her. While Melodie was excited to be going, she was unsure as to exactly what she'd think of Patti live—you know, you want to think your mate's tastes are cool, but you can't lie just to make him feel good or out of a desire to share his interests. Of course Melodie was amazed. Familiar with only some of the songs, she found Patti to be such a compelling performer that it didn't even matter. That she can finally see what is so special about P-A-T-T-I left me with a really warm feeling.

Anyway, it's been a fab weekend. Here're my two cents on Friday vs. Saturday: I thought Friday was a more emotional, joyful night. Saturday the band sounded tighter and Patti was more agressive. It was as if she had gotten the schmoozy stuff out of the way the night before. What really amazes me, though, is how quickly she's gotten back her performing chops. The shows at Lollapalooza, Central Park, and the Beacon all seemed slightly tentative (but wonderful nevertheless of course). At Irving Plaza, however, she and the band were just incredible. It's as if they had never lost a step from their glory days in the '70s. In fact, if anything, I think they're better than they were then.

Now I can't wait till she returns from Europe and schedules more NY shows!

Copyright © Michael Kaplan 1996


[contributed by lkg]

if that's true [that Friday's show didn't rock much], then 6/22 was completely different. patti & the band were rockin like a mofo! the crowd was jumpin & a'pumpin. even "when doves cry" (prince's originally kinda slow sad ballad) was surging & a'purging, full of soul & spit & anger. the spoken word pieces built up tension til we could hardly stand it, then we'd be rocked out of our skulls, or something slow would take us to another place. the instruments were very audible and very beautiful, just like patti's voice. my face was leaking raw emotion a good part of the time. like you said it "used" to be, all one oceanic wave-bursting whole. as she wailed in "dancing barefoot": "oh god, I'm back again!"

for me, "smoke on the water" was a prime example of patti's utter control of her persona. after introducing her son jackson, she stood at the side, almost nonchalantly. when her turn came to join in, she'd saunter over to lenny kaye, grab his mike, swing it to her lips and suddenly there she was! all contorted, screaming "fire in the sky!" then she'd walk calmly back to the side, watching jackson & lenny. (for one chorus she didn't make it in time and just got to sing "sky!") just before jackson's great solo, she howled "FIRE IN THE FUCKING SKY! JACKSON!" way into the rafters. then back to watch her very talented boy. her ability to turn it all the way on and then off just blew me away.

the only lame thing saturday was the before and after music played by the so-called DJ. before was the grateful dead, and after was crosby stills nash & young! if the goal was to clear the venue but quick, it shore did work! not that i especially dislike those artistes, it just did not fit at all! (the mink deville from the night before would've been 100% better! or nirvana or hole or tracy chapman or jeff buckley or rem or [fill in the blank] or anything but what they played!) but even that couldn't ruin such a great evening!

Copyright © lkg 1996

JUNE 21-22

[contributed by Pattie K.]

I was at both shows and have read all the reviews from other Babel-listers. Thought I'd add my $.02 worth. While both shows were truly amazing, I thought Patti seemed looser Saturday night. I think that might have had something to do with the fact that Arista wasn't filming the show. Friday night, I got all misty-eyed when the band launched into "Redondo Beach" since I thought I'd never get to witness it live again. The crowd was kind of dead (to the world?) both nights except during "Land/RNR Nigger." We seemed to be the only ones jumping around to "Free Money" and some of the other faster songs. Did you notice that "When Doves Cry" did get longer from Friday to Saturday night? I was surprised that they weren't selling t-shirts. Patti still looks and sounds as wonderful as she did in the '70s. It's so great to have a rockin' Patti back.

We played "Spot the Celebrities" Friday night and saw Lisa Robinson, David Byrne, David Bowie, David Geffin and Jim Carroll. Saturday night, Sam Shepard came in after Patti and Lenny had dedicated songs to him.

Copyright © Pattie K. 1996

back to babelogue