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Patti Smith. Banga

By Sergio Pulido 10.11.12

Though we may not all like it rock music stopped being the preserve of young people some time ago; pop, electronic, hip hop and a variety of Latin rhythms (in the Spanish speaking world) now occupy that space. Current rock has retained a small share of the anguished record industry and has become the music of choice for older people, or even 40 and 50 some-things. Within this panorama of aging rockers some veteran artists from the 60s and 70s still manage to release material as good as their original material, while we can no longer expect the avant-garde of their youth they still manage to come up with the goods when it counts, i.e. the latest album from Bob Dylan (70 years old) Leonard Cohen (recently turned 78) as well as the incombustible punk poetess Patti Smith who at 65 has just released the extraordinary album ‘Banga’ without doubt a standout of the year to date.


As one would expect with a singer songwriter with a busy and compromised social agenda ‘Banga’ is an album replete with quotes, dedications and references: 'Amerigo' deals with none other than Américo Vespucio, 'This is the girl' is an eulogy to the memory of Amy Winehouse, 'Nine' is a birthday song composed specially for Johnny Depp, 'Fuji-san' is about the Japanese post-Tsunami nuclear disaster, 'María', the disappearance of María Schneider, there’s a cover of a Neil Young track, a song about Séneca, we could go on like this with each of the 12 songs that make up the album, which was produced by Patti herself with the help of the usual band of collaborators: Tony Shanahan, Jay Dee Daugherty and his ever faithful guitar, loyal band-mate Lenny Kaye; other guest performers include an old friend from her CBGB days, Tom Verlaine, of Television, as well as her own sons Jackson and Jesse Smith.

Seeing Patti live is highly recommended; she has never stopped personifying her liberal philosophy and when challenged by her audience she becomes a whirlwind of emotion, adrenalin, charisma and courage that brings us right back to a time when the world could still be changed, when it was more human, not as mean as it is today; it’s as if the years had stood still and she’s still the 20 something rocker that revolutionised the New York music scene more than forty years ago. Luckily she is still out there, continues to write, create and perform. Long live the Poetess of Rock.

  • The 19 November
  • Palau de la Música Catalana
  • Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 6
  • www.palaumusica.org