Patti Smith in 1978 at Reading Festival (27th Aug) & Newcastle City Hall (29th Aug)
Patti Smith is a force of nature; outspoken, compelling, authentic, passionate, kooky, arty, funny, challenging, cheeky and the craziest rock ‘n’ roll anti-star to arrive on the scene during the late ’70s. She exploded out of the new wave movement, but there was always much more to her than punk rock. Patti wears her rock and pop influences on her sleeve, and her music owes as much to The Who, The Stones and Dylan as it does to the Pistols and The Ramones.
I first saw her live in 1978, twice in three days; on a Sunday night closing the Reading Rock Festival, and then again onTuesday at Newcastle City Hall. Patti had just been in the UK singles charts with “Because the Night” which she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen, and which reached No. 5.
Patti closed the 1978 Reading Festival, headlining the Sunday which also featured Ian Gillan, Tom Robinson and Foreigner. She was amazing and had the whole crowd with her as she stormed, screamed and snarled “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger”, tore into “Gloria”, “Because the Night” and sanf great covers of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)” and the Who’s “My Generation”. Stunning.
I have a “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger” plectrum which Patti threw into the crowd at Reading. I scrabbled around the ground, in the mud for it, after she threw a handfull into the crowd.
Set list; 27th August 1978, Reading Festival
Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger, Privilege (Set Me Free), Redondo Beach, Free Money, Ghost Dance, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star), Ask the Angels, 25th Floor, Because the Night, Gloria, You Light Up My Life, My Generation, Godspeed
I saw Patti two days later concert at Newcastle City Hall and she was equally as electric. Support came from The Pop Group. The set was slightly longer than her Reading performance. The last song was a wonderful performance of the Stones’ “Time is on my Side”. I have a flyer from the City Hall concert, the front (see above) has a picture of Patti saluting, “78 Speed…(?) and “r.e.f.m.” (Radio Ethiopia Field Marshall ?), and some other words I can’t quite make out. The back (see below) includes some egyptian hieroglyphics and a copy of the lyrics of “Ghost Dance” in Patti’s own hand.
“What is it children
That falls from the sky
Ti Ye Yi-Yi.
Mana from Heaven
of the most high
food from the father
Set list, 29th August 1978, City Hall, Newcastle
Godspeed, Till Victory, Privilege (Set Me Free), Kimberly, Redondo Beach, Space Monkey, High On Rebellion/25th Floor, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star), Pumping (My Heart), Because the Night, Radio Ethiopia, Babelogue, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger, Gloria, My Generation, Time Is on My Side