Patti Smith covers Dylan to Cobain

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Better than you might think. Patti's voice is still very powerful.

Quick fashion report: Patti Smith skipped onstage Monday night in her trademark blazer, t-shirt and jeans—a look that's aged well. She also had on boots and a black hat, which made her look part Annie Hall and part Amish. I was glad when she lost the hat. Since Smith's latest CD, "Twelve," is a covers record, it's no surprise the two-hour plus show was filled with them—ranging from a cool version of Bob Dylan's "Changing of the Guard" to the very uncomfortable, jazzed-up version of "Are You Experienced?" Longtime Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye and Smith tripped the crowd's hometown pride by bringing out Tony Glover to play harmonica on a few tunes. Kaye also mentioned the classic '79 Twin Cities compilation, "Big Hits of Mid-America Volume II," and paid homage to the late Soul Asylum bassist Karl Mueller. At one point, Soul Asylum's lead singer Dave Pirner came onstage to play a few songs on guitar. I've often wished Lenny Kaye's obsession with garage rock would have come out more in Patti Smith's songs. Kaye, who is also well known for the Nuggets garage rock compilations, led the Smith group in a cover of The Seeds '60s single, "Pushin' Too Hard." This is when the crowd got up to dance, and might have been the show's most rocking moment... ...except for the encore finale of "Rock N Roll Nigger." Patti started to violently pull the strings off her guitar and rant about making change. It's been a long time since I've seen someone who really still believes we can change things and not sound quaint.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I didn't realize Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a sacred cow to me until Smith's group started it up. Smith can really hit it, and she has the cred to touch it, but the group jam—with Lenny Kaye and Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner doing cheesy dance moves—annoyed me. I need to let that go.

Random Detail: Patti Smith said this show in Minneapolis was the "weirdest fucking night" of the tour so far—weirder than the show in Poland. She was referring to the crowd in front of the stage. I couldn't see anything weird, except maybe a woman in her late '40s and a rather frumpy dress, jumping up and down in her pumps.

By the Way: My favorite Patti Smith song is "Dancing Barefoot Wave" and she didn't play it. Wah.

 
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