review of 8/11/97 concert, morse auditorium, boston university photographic resource center, boston

[contributed by Mitch Gart]

The show was 1 1/2 hours in a hot auditorium. It was scheduled for 8, and there was an announcement about 8:10 by babel-list's own John Jacobs that Patti would be ready in a few minutes, then about 8:30 she, Lenny, and Oliver came out through the curtains at center stage, along with (I think) Jackson carrying guitar cases. They sat on 3 metal chairs in the center of the stage, Lenny on Patti's left and Oliver on her right.

First Patti read a poem by Ginsberg, I think, accompanied by the two guitars strumming some very minimalist chords written by Oliver to go with the poem. Then she read "Piss Factory," with the usual passion, except (as she later explained) she held back her spit out of respect for the fact that the performance was in a synagogue. One nice difference was that at the end the crowd let her get out the "and I will travel light" line, which is often drowned by applause. Then she sang "Wing," and "Dancing Barefoot," which got the crowd going.

Throughout the evening she went back and forth between acoustic songs and readings of poems, which included "Y" and "Georgia O'Keeffe" and something about Jackson Pollock, I don't know if it's a poem that's written down or something she improvised on the spot. [Note: 8/11 was the 41st anniversary of Jackson Pollock's death.] This was the most fascinating piece of the evening. Patti talked a little about Pollock riding in a car through the hot summer night, surrounded by beautiful women, riding to his death I think. The guys picked up different acoustic guitars, ones with metal latticeworks on the front, which made of a jangly sound, and they picked more than strummed some music above the words. Patti talked a bit, then closed her eyes as the boys picked, then emerged to talk some more, then closed her eyes a couple of minutes and just let the music surround her. I thought she would raise her head again and say some more, but instead she just gave one of her thousand-watt smiles as the music faded away.

There was one semi-new song Patti did last night, it's one she did a couple of times last fall, I think it's called "Grateful" and it has a line about silver threads. Also one totally new song she was nervous about performing for the first time live. I can't recall the name but she said it was written last Easter in Provincetown about some events that had occurred, and it's about 39 or 59 children who died. Sorry for the vagueness on that one. Patti closed with an acoustic "People Have The Power," then came back for an encore and said it was nice of us to cheer so much, but she hadn't planned any more songs, so she let everybody yell out requests, and got asked for "Free Money" ("yeah, right") and "Horses" and "Dark Eyes" and "Wooly Bully" (!) and "anything", and she answered "anything, I like that request" and then sang "Because the Night."

It was a wonderful show where Patti's warmth really came through, as well as her endearing confusion. While having trouble adjusting a mic, she said she needs to take one of those sound engineering classes they have on the back of a matchbook.

Afterwards 3 of us went to the pizzeria and found lots of Red Sox fans but nobody who looked like they were from the concert (but then, how do you tell in August when everybody's hot and wearing shorts and t-shirts.)

Set list from August 11, 1997
Morse Auditorium, Boston University Photographic Resource Center:

intro by John Jacobs
Footnote to Hal (poem by Allen Ginsberg?)
Piss Factory
Dancin Barefoot
Beneath the Southern Cross
Ghost Dance
Psalm 23 Revisited for William Burroughs
Weep for Lily (? written by Oliver, sung by Oliver and then Patti joined in for the last verse)
Jackson Pollock
Love of the Common People (by Waylon Jennings, sung by Lenny)
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (by Hank Williams)
Last Call (new song by Patti and Oliver, sung by Patti)
People Have the Power
Because the Night (encore)

Also "Georgia O'Keeffe" was in there somewhere

Copyright © Mitch Gart 1997

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