Review & Set List: Patti Smith's Last Australia Show @ Festival Hall, Melbourne

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

Patti Smith’s touring days are coming to an end. Australia has just witnessed the last time Patti will perform in the country.

Patti Smith played her last ever Aussie show at Melbourne landmark Festival Hall, where The Beatles played 53 years ago. Festival Hall has seen many an icon over the years including Ian Dury & The Blockheads, early Foo Fighters and Radiohead tours, Ozzy Osbourne and The Sex Pistols.

Patti was more impressed that it was also once a boxing ring. "I haven’t played that song in 30 years but I wanted to play it because of the boxers who were here," she said after fumbling through Pumping (My Heart). (She was also taking a bit of creative licence. She performed the song eight times in 2015).

Patti’s imperfections just made the show more perfect. Tonight was a special night, one we will never see repeated. Patti Smith is music history. She recorded the first punk album by a female, Horses. Her late husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith inspired the name of the band Sonic Youth. Just the story of the how Because The Night was made sets parameters in music that can never be repeated. (Long story short, Springsteen was recording Darkness On The Edge Of Town in the next studio. He had writer’s block and rejected the song. Patti, next door, was recording Easter, finished it off and made it her own).

There were so many moments in this landmark show. It was great to see one of Australia’s true genius songwriters Kerryn Tolhurst join Patti for Beneath The Southern Cross. There was even a very sly cover of The Beatles Within You Without You in there if you listened closely.

Patti singing Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall was her nod to her past.

Courtney Barnett joining Patti for People Have The Power was like a passing of the torch and a nod to the future.

Patti was punk with Rock and Roll Nigger, she was passionate with Because The Night, she was the creative genius with Break It Up and Pissing In The River.

At 70 years of age, Patti Smith is leaving us at the top of her game. Choosing to end it now is only going to make us want her more.

The set list:

Main Set

  • Dancing Barefoot (from Wave, 1979)
  • Pumping (My Heart) (from Radio Ethiopia, 1976)
  • Ghost Dance (from Easter, 1978)
  • A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Break It Up (from Horses, 1975)
  • Ain’t It Strange (from Radio Ethiopia, 1976)
  • Pissing In The River (from Radio Ethiopia, 1976)
  • Beneath The Southern Cross (with Kerryn Tolhurst) (from Gone Again, 1996)
  • People Have The Power (with Courtney Barnett) (from Dream of Life, 1988)
  • Land/Gloria (from Horses, 1975)
  • Because The Night (from Easter, 1978)
  • Rock And Roll Nigger (from Easter, 1978)
  • Wing (from Gone Again, 1996)

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