It was hard to believe I was watching Patti Smith live at Amoeba today. She seems like the kind of artist who doesn't exist in real life, yet here she was sounding every bit as amazing as on her landmark first album, Horses, while launching into suicide story "Redondo Beach" at the beginning of her set. She danced and smiled her way through "April Fool," the gleeful first single from Banga, her excellent most recent album, released earlier this year. "You're so quiet ... it must be the hallowed ground of the record store," she teased the audience before launching into "Fuju-san." She introduced Banga's "This is the Girl" as being about Amy Winehouse, adding a darker shade to a beautifully rendered song about the girl "who yearned to be heard."
While her bandmates played acoustically, you could really hear Smith and how gracefully her voice has matured, sounding natural and unstrained on the newer material and projecting the wisdom of years onto her classics. She strapped on a guitar for a snarly rendition of "Banga" — but not before asking why AMC dropped The Killing. "I'll be back at 2 in the morning, we'll talk about really serious stuff," she quipped on the night of the Vice Presidential debate.