Patti Smith - vocals; Jay Dee Daugherty - drums; Lenny Kaye - guitar; Ivan Kral - bass, guitar; Richard Sohl - piano
The Stooges may have defined the sound and attitude of punk rock, and The New York Dolls lent it some style, but Patti Smith gave it its substance. Imbued with an all-consuming passion for the verse of Arthur Rimbaud and the grit of early rock 'n' roll, Patti combined simplicity and intellect to help forge the most vital and honest musical form of the 20th century.
After humble beginnings in Chicago and chasing her muse to Paris, Patti Smith eventually found her way to the artistic circles of New York in the early '70s. Her readings at St. Mark's Poetry Project lead to performances including musicians like rock historian and guitarist Lenny Kaye and pianist Richard Sohl, who would later comprise her fully fledged rock band and contribute to a series of records that were as aggressive and daring as they were beautiful.
This show from March of 1978 was a sort of spiritual homecoming for the woman that had once busked on the streets of the City of Light, immersed in the environs that had created her favorite poems. But the cobbled alleyways needn't have served as her theatre this time around; the punk scene Patti helped nurture was in full swing and the recent release of the album Easter yielded her highest charting hit, "Because the Night," co-written by Bruce Springsteen. The band is in top form as the rattle through a brief set, book-ending their palpitating version of Them's "Gloria" with newer material that is just as transcendent - listen for a room full of raucous French fans chanting, "pah-TEE, pah-TEE!!"
With maybe the exception of hip hop, punk was the last great folk movement in music; if not accessible in sound or subject, then certainly in its practice. These were artists of often limited means or ability coming together to kick and scream because they had to. Music chose them, and the sum was certainly greater than the whole of its parts. Listen to the Patti Smith Group for evidence: this is the sound of the ordinary being made extraordinary.