So here we are, up in the Gods at The Royal Albert Hall as Patti kicks in to the first number.
She is benediction
She is addicted to thee
She is the root connection
She is connecting with he
We are just 30 seconds in and already I’m fighting to contain the tears of emotion I feel welling up inside. It’s not just the long wait we endured to get back to gigs, there are certain moments that just hit you like a tidal wave, that transcend the regular artist/audience experience. It is a sense of release, the unburdening of despair, the pure simple joy of being – of being in the moment, this moment. It’s probably the closest I get to understanding church and faith and all that old-time religion stuff. Jesus died for somebody’s sins…
There is a poignancy and power that comes with age, when an artist has been such an integral part of your life’s soundtrack for consistent decades. There is also undeniably that realisation that at some point this shared journey will end – I will never get to see Charlie Watts driving The Stones. I was however fortunate enough to witness the sadly departed Olivier Libaux leading his wonderful Nouvelle Vague creation several times and his somewhat unheralded passing I think weighs somewhere in the back of my mind.
The plot of our life sweats in the dark like a face
The mystery of childbirth, of childhood itself
What is it that calls to us?
It's more than the music with Patti. It’s the influence and inspiration, guidance and wisdom. It is perhaps Patti more than anyone who taught me that as an artist one can embrace a variety of mediums – don’t feel tied to the page or the lens or the pick. Patti was the first person to show me that not only could you mix poetry with rock ‘n’ roll but that poetry at its most urgent and visceral was rock ‘n’ roll!
There’s no artifice there, no smoke and mirrors, pyrotechnics or elaborate backdrops. It’s simple and beautiful, just a cool as fuck band on a bare stage – that’s all you need. You have to know where you are at this age, hit free-flow and breathe the truth. Next January I’ll be eligible to apply for a senior citizens railcard for Christ’s sake and I’ve heard National Express do something similar. I need to let stuff go, choose a path and see where it leads – in a way maybe the furlough years have set me there, I already miss part of that life. There’s anger and there’s grace, dignity and resignation – I feel less anxious these days and I’m ready to script the final reel.
Right now though, I am in the Gods at the Royal Albert Hall watching Patti Smith and this moment is everything!
I'm dancing barefoot
Heading for a spin
Some strange music draws me in
Makes me come on like some heroine