Patti Smith returns to singing live with Brooklyn Concert – NBC New York
Patti Smith gave a mini-concert at the Brooklyn Museum on Tuesday to honor photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and add her voice to a series of pop-up events that mark New York’s first small steps towards the return of live indoor performances.
Smith played six songs and read poems and excerpts from her book Just Kids in the museum’s Beaux-Arts Court. Her voice bounced 60 feet above the skylight. It was a concert in honor of the museum staff, attended by almost 50 people, all of whom were socially distant in widely spaced chairs.
“I’m not nervous, but it’s been so long,” she told the crowd. An hour later, just before putting on her mask and walking away after a standing ovation, she added, “I hope we’ll see you soon.”
From her boots to her shirt in black with flowing gray hair, Smith and one companion, Tony Shanahan, played “Wing”, “My Blakean Year”, “Grateful” and “Dancing Barefoot” and Tim Hardin’s “How” skills we hold onto a dream “and Neil Young’s” Helpless. “She ended the set with her biggest hit,” Because The Night, “written with Bruce Springsteen.
NBC New York’s Ida Siegal reports.
It was one of many citywide cultural events that are part of NY PopsUp, a new festival that runs through Labor Day and is overseen by producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal.
The program is led by interdisciplinary artist and director Zack Winokur, who said he wanted events that were “intimate, provocative, beautiful, to stop us and remind us of what it means to connect with other people through live performances to step”.
Winokur noted that NY PopsUp is curated by a council of artists including jazz musician Jon Batiste, set designer Mimi Lien, and playwright Jeremy O. Harris. She hopes to get the arts – a huge engine of the city’s economy and culture – moving again.
“We have to take small steps to make sure it’s incredibly safe,” he said. “These limitations provide a kind of intimacy and opportunity that really gets us back to the basics of what it means to connect with people and reconnect with art.”
The shows take place in performance rooms – including The Apollo in Harlem, St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, and Broadway’s Music Box Theater – that can be adjusted to meet social distancing guidelines.
Other expected artists are Hugh Jackman, Chris Rock, Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, many Patinkin, Q-Tip, Sutton Foster, Billy Porter, Idina Menzel, Renée Fleming, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick.
The Smith concert took place on the same day in 1989 that Mapplethorpe died at the age of 42. It was also the year-long anniversary of the last time Smith performed live at The Fillmore in San Francisco. She wove stories about Mapplethorpe and her husband Fred Smith with their daughter Jesse. She spoke of the day in 1976 in Detroit when she first looked at her future husband.
Known as the godmother of punk, Smith came from New York in the early 1970s to create a mix of cerebral, ragged emotional music. On Monday she read from a selection of Just Kids about her life with Mapplethorpe in Brooklyn and described a couple with little money but a killer record collection.