It was a great night at the Milwaukee Theatre on Thursday.
Patti Smith and her Band performed Horses and other songs for nearly two wonderful hours.
Her voice was terrific. In terms of her singing, there was no indication that so many years have passed since the album's release. The band was great as well.
What was shocking to me was the behavior of the audience.
The band took the stage and then Patti Smith entered. They began Horses. Although the crowd was on its feet for her entrance, as soon as "Gloria" started, the people sat! I couldn't believe it. How do you sit for that? She sang the iconic, "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine," and the audience was already sitting.
They continued to perform the album, and the audience, for the most part, sat during the songs. My seat was in the sixth row, and the people in front of me sat. That close to the stage and they sat. It was unbelievable.
Had they ever heard the album? Did they know Patti Smith's music? It was so strange. I didn't get it.
When it was time for "Land," I decided there was no way I would sit through that. Too bad for the people sitting behind me. Launching into the song, Patti Smith told the crowd to "stand the f--- up" or something akin to that. It was funny. You can't "do the watusi" when you're sitting.
I'm glad most in the audience gave her the reaction her performance deserved after that.
She spoke quite a bit, introducing the songs, commenting on the fact that Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed Thursday Patti Smith Day in Milwaukee. She seemed genuinely grateful for being honored that way. She also shared it with the audience, saying this is your day.
The framed Proclamation was on stage for the entire show.
She also spoke about meeting her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, 41 years ago on March 9th. They performed three songs for Fred, "Dancing Barefoot," "Frederick," and "Because the Night." With her son in the band, it was a particularly touching way to mark the anniversary.
It was a terrific show. I'm so glad I was there. A great, great night.
UPDATE, March 12, 2017:
Patti Smith returned to home territory for a concert in Detroit on Saturday, two days after her Milwaukee performance.
I read a review of the Detroit show and, again, found this odd audience reaction.
Two of the musicians who backed Smith on “Horses,” guitarist Lenny Kaye and drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, were steps away from her. The crowd at the Royal Oak was mostly seated, with no standing room at the front, making Smith’s performance feel a bit uncharacteristically reserved at first. But by the time the group played “Land” the music brought the audience to its feet and the energy in the room stayed high through the rest of the night.Good Lord!
I thought it was just the Milwaukee crowd that was so oddly low energy at the beginning of the show. I didn't expect that scenario repeated by the Detroit/MC5 fans.
It's bizarre. It certainly wasn't her performance that was responsible for the crowd staying seated. Blame the people attending, not her and not the band.