A friend of ours says we don't do enough "bucket list" things on our holidays. He's right, but this probably qualified: going to the Royal Albert Hall. I've lost count of the number of times we've seen Patti Smith, but I know the first time was in 1976. She was touring behind her recently-released debut album, Horses... she was 29, we were 22. We're all a lot older now. To some extent, our current age mattered. I felt creaky in my bones, and for all I know, so did Patti, but she didn't show it. She had the vitality of an artist who wasn't going gentle into anyone's night.
While there were plenty of people in the audience in our general age group, there were also a good number of younger fans, which was nice. We wondered what had brought them to the show, and when they exploded during "Because the Night" (Patti's hit!), we understood they respected her icon status but loved her far more than just because she was old. They bantered with her between songs ... "I love you, Patti!" was popular, and one person asked, "How are you still so cool?" (She said it was genetics, which made her son Jackson, who is a guitarist in the band, laugh.)
It was rather remarkable that two members of the band were also with her back in 1976: Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty. There were lots of callbacks to past times, but it wasn't a nostalgia show.
My Blakean Year (she told a long story about Thomas Paine between several songs)
Blame It on the Sun (Stevie Wonder cover)
Free Money (personal fave)
I'm Free/Walk on the Wild Side (Rolling Stones/Lou Reed cover) (Lenny and the band)
Ain't it Strange
Because the Night
One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan cover)
Pissing in a River
Land/Gloria (crowd was nutty by this point)
People Have The Power
My Generation (Who cover) (she fucked up her guitar, of course)
Six of those songs were played in 1976. "My Generation" in particular combined the power of her earlier rendition with the continued irony of the lyrics all these years later (including her immortal "I DON'T NEED THAT FUCKING SHIT!").
I could be silly and say this was the best concert I ever saw with a 74-year-old headliner, but that minimizes what we experienced. In its way, it was up there with some of the shows of the 70s.