Patti Smith: the mother of punk gave Jim Morrison his wings
WITH her voice affected by a throat infection, at 70 years of age and performing a set based on a record released in 1975, Patti Smith delivered one of the most exhilarating performances on recent Bluesfest history.
After apologising profusely and graciously about her voice, affected by the strenuous pace of her Australian tour, the American poet and singer received a standing ovation from Bluesfest audiences on the first night of the festival.
In a reaction rarely seen at Bluesfest, thousands of people got off their chairs and thanked the artist for her performance.
Smith performed her debut album, Horses.
Released December 1975, Horses fused rock and roll structures and Smith's free-form, Beat poetry-infused lyrics, and received widespread critical acclaim.
Horses has been hailed by music critics as one of the greatest and most influential albums in the history of the American punk rock movement, as well as one of the greatest albums of all time.
Smith offered a rendition so full of passion, so elegant in its free-form poetry, that was arguably the most enthralling performance by a female artist at Bluesfest Byron Bay since Grace Jones in 2011.
The first part of the show started strong with people singling along to Gloria, Redondo Beach, Birdland and Free Money.
To mark the second part of the show, Smith announced: "we are now turning the record, moving the arm over and placing the needed in it," alluding at the way the original vinyl had to be managed to listen to side B.
Many Baby Boomers and hipster Millennials cheered at the allusion to old fashion vinyl.
Smith performed then Kimberly, Break It Up, Land (parts one, a thousand dances, and two, La Mer(de)), and Elegie.
Before singing Break It Up, Smith explained to the audience that she wrote the songs about The Doors frontman Jim Morrison, and based on her recollection of her visit of Morrison's grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, as well as a dream in which she witnessed Morrison stuck to a marble slab shaped as an angel, trying and eventually succeeding in breaking free from the stone with Morrison donning 'big white wings'.
It was the 1970s after all.
She then managed to belt out a number of her hits from later records, with an exhausted audience promising to come back for her acoustic set this this evening Friday.