Patti Smith - vocals; Lenny Kaye - guitar, vocals; Ivan Kral - bass; Richard Sohl - keyboards; Jay Dee Daugherty - drums
When the Vietnam War ended, a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions began. Fleeing communist rule, by 1977 the exodus of Indochinese refugees had escalated to a steady stream of 21,000 fleeing per year in rickety boats with no place to go. By 1978, a flood of 100,000 refugees were fleeing per year and daily media coverage of the thousands of "boat people" floundering and often dying in the South China Sea shocked the world. Then in February of 1979, China invaded North Vietnam making the situation infinitely worse than it already was. In retaliation, the Vietnamese government instituted moves to rid the country of all ethnic Chinese, regardless of whether they were farmers, fisherman, capitalists, or communists, and in the process created more than a million more refugees. Countless fleeing refugees perished and those who now managed to reach the Southeast Asian shores were told they couldn't stay. The media exhaustively reported on the hopelessness of the situation and sent out pleas to potential resettlement countries, like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and France for desperately needed help.
In May of 1978, New York City's Palladium hosted a benefit concert featuring Todd Rundgren in an effort to raise awareness of the boat people's plight and to help raise funds to help in the resettlement efforts. Days after the February 1979, China invasion of North Vietnam, two additional benefit concerts were presented at the Palladium, billed as the "Indochinese Refugee Concerts." Big Apple favorites, Blue Oyster Cult and Todd Rundgren & Utopia, headlined the events and they invited punk poet/songwriter Patti Smith, former New York Doll's front man, David Johansen, and guitar slinger Rick Derringer to join them as guest performers on the late show. The King Biscuit Flower Hour recording team was on hand for both 1979 concerts and choice highlights were broadcast on their weekly program later that year.
Here we present Patti Smith's unedited performance from the late show that evening. Unlike the early show where Smith presented a confrontational display of "Tomorrow" (the theme song from the Broadway musical, Annie) sung a cappella and angry, followed by a puzzling clarinet solo, for the late show she brings on the entire Patti Smith Group. Still reveling in the negative reaction to the early show set, she begins by acknowledging that the early show crowd hated the upcoming song. In true confrontational style, she then proceeds by doing it again, opening with a disjointed "Tomorrow" in the same manner, but with her band aimlessly noodling along. The crowd's reaction isn't nearly as disdainful, and as if to reward them for allowing her the indulgence, they ease into Smith's radically reworked version of Van Morrison's "Gloria," with her classic opening line, "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine." It's a smoldering performance that slowly builds and by the time they hit the familiar "G-L-O-R-I-A" chorus, the band is sailing.
Following some sizzling guitar work from Lenny Kaye, both sing with passion, with Kaye emphasizing the phrase "Outside of society!" over and over. A brief, but wild synth solo from Richard Sohl precedes the group's final closing crunch, preparing the audience for headliners Todd Rundgren & Utopia.