review of 5/4/97 concert in hoboken, new jersey

[contributed by Adam Gerst]

Just came back from Hoboken with my family from seeing Patti and we had a great time. Took the Path train from the city, and as folks on the Babel list indicated, Washington Street was right there. They had a low stage on the edge of Washington Street and since we had some time we decided to walk the streets of Hoboken. Lots of cool exhibits for folks of all ages and my three year old certainly enjoyed the petting zoo and riding a pony. Hoboken is a funky place and the vibes were sincere.

We went back to Washington Street at 3:30 and caught the end of Valentine Smith's set. We were able to get seats on a bench right on the side of the stage so we were comfortable. The scene reminded me what it would have been like to see the Dead at Haight Aighbury in the sixties. The stage was on a street and people were hanging out the windows outside their apartments as well as on the roofs. Before Patti appeared, the Gefkens, another band out of Hoboken played an animated set. During their set, I saw Oliver Ray walking around along with Lenny Kaye just enjoying the laidback scene. I pointed out Oliver to my wife and she exclaimed, "He looks just like a kid."

Patti came on around 4:45 and was in terrific spirits. There were many families in attendance and she waved at kids and was clearly happy to be playing. The band opened up with an energetic but ragged version of "Who Do You Love". Afterwards Patti spoke about how happy she was to be appearing in Hoboken discussing how she and the band stops there everyday to eat as they are recording at Weehawkin. After excellent versions of "Kimberly" and Dancin Barefoot", she again raved about great it was to be playing in the streets. The band clearly was also having fun although they sounded a bit unrehearsed. They ran through versions of "Gone Again" and "Southern Cross" that were sincere and heartfelt. Jackson came out to play on "Smoke On The Water" while Patti sat on the stage with Oliver watching with a proud smile. She also took the opportunity to walk outside the perimeter of the stage greeting people. When she came back on, she joked that she was going to sing with Jackson except that he was playing in the key of G which she can't sing to. She then laughed and said that he played it in that key on purpose so she wouldn't sing.

All hell broke loose on "Free Money." During the chorus she and the band got lost, and Patti was overheard screaming "stop, stop". They slowed down the song and she and the band got back on track completing it. During another part of the song, Oliver rushed to switch guitars as he completely got lost. She went on to do a mesmerizing version of "Wicked Messenger" and then "Radio Ethiopia" reading from Allen Ginsburg "Howl." This was a raucous version which melted the membranes. Afterwards she proudly stated that Allen was one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century and was from Jersey. They went on to do a dirge like version of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". Afterwards, Patti kiddingly(?) apologized to Hank Williams for the version. From there the band went on to perform "People Have The Power." Patti was inspired by the crowd and sang this passionately and beautifully.

The band went off with Patti and came back for the encore. She thanked the officials from Hoboken and especially had kind words for the cops who she said were "cool" today. She cracked that she was trying to get them to fix some traffic tickets for her except she doesn't have a driver license. She introduced "Because The Night" as being co-written with "some guy from South Jersey." A spirited but tentative version. She and the band then huddled together and tried to figure out what to play next. She came back and said "we're in trouble" and the band started to pound out an almost unrecognizable version of "Not Fade Away". After several minutes, Lenny started to play the break into the song and everyone knew Patti was going to break into "Gloria". Patti improvised lyrics and sang," The letters were falling, the letters were falling" before breaking into the chorus. What a great way to end the show.

Copyright © Adam Gerst 1997

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