So I saw Patti perform live at the State Theatre earlier in April, and then headed back down to Sydney at the end of the month with my friend, A, to the Opera House for a spoken word concert. To say we were beside ourselves was an understatement.
In my previous blog about Patti and the concert, I say I love her music, but it is her words, her poetry, her lyrics, her stories that I love the most. To be able to hear her talk to us and read some of her work...how incredibly blessed were we!?!?
I scored us great seats in the third row. They were the easiest tickets I ever scored. Ticket buying online sends my anxiety sky high, but for whatever reason I didn't think this would sell quickly. Had I realised it was the ONLY spoken word concert and that it indeed sold out in 5 minutes, I am sure my anxiety would have been insane. But I had no idea and we lucked out with great tickets. Sometimes the universe works with you rather than against you!
And so the day came and we trained it to Circular Quay, a gorgeous warm and sunny day, had an early dinner and wandered through the Quay to the Opera House.
I tell you, no matter how many times I attend events at the Opera House, it never ever gets old. The thrill of walking towards this glorious piece of architecture sends the heart skyhigh. Of being in the various theatres, watching Opera, plays, concerts, it is an experience unlike any other. It is really special. It should always be really special. So, add in such a specifically special performance. We knew we were in for something unlike we had or would ever see again.
The performance was to start at 8pm, and go for a little over an hour. Patti came on around 8.10 and it finished at 10ish. More than we expected, and it was beyond glorious.
So she arrived on stage to rapturous applause, smiling and humble. She immediately told us she was nervous. Mostly for being in the Joan Sutherland Theatre and went into her first story of the night, that she wanted to be an opera singer when she was younger, so being on this stage was immense for her.
And this is what is perfect about Patti, you look at her life and it's beyond amazing, and yet she is this humble, down to earth, nervous almost 70 year old ordinary woman. She is certainly NOT ordinary, but yet she comes across this way. I often wonder whether part of it is a bit of shtick, as it does get laughs and she seems ok with that.
I could listen to Patti read the phone book, she has a haunting, lyrical, mesmerising voice, with a quirky New Jersey turn of phrase, piano becomes piana, drawings drawlins, and so forth. She commands your quiet and attention, and bring you to your knees with her words and unique stories.
And so the show went on, consisting of Patti reading passages from her books with additional asides, some humourous, some haunting. She showed slides, mostly those stunning black and white Mapplethorpes, and talked about them. She read lyrics and poetry. She spoke of her tour and her band. She told stories of her late husband and her children. SHe was joyous.
Every now and then the guitar tech would come out and place her acoustic over her shoulder and she would play a song to us. Parred back and fragile, she said she was not used to her band not being there to hide her shortcomings. There were no shortcomings. She was amazing.
Listening to her read key passages from Just Kids (most probably my all time favourite book) was something else, there are no words to describe the thrill. Even sometimes she seemed taken aback by the good fortune in her past. She'd sort of go, yeah, that happened, in an amused tone.
My favourite story of the night came early, and was new. She took a little break between the tour ending and this event and headed to see Uluru, a longtime bucket list item. She took a touristy bus tour out at dawn, and loved it so much she booked herself in for the day time tour and then the dusk tour and again the following day the dawn one again. Just imagining this aging punk on a holiday by herself, no thrills, jumping on a bus to do such things made me smile. Her telling of the story was funny and joyous.
And the stories she handpicked from her life, were simply that, sometimes funny, sometimes melancholy, but always uplifting and joyous.
And so all good things must come to an end.
She asked us a favour, could we help her with her last piece. It's her most famous song and she felt naked and nervous singing it with only a guitar and without her fabulous band. Could we join her in song on Because the Night.
And we did.
And for the first time that night I cried, I thought I would earlier than that, but i was so mesmerised I didn't have time to.
We all sounded glorious in that beautiful theatre, Patti sounded glorious, it was orchestral and incredibly spiritual.
And the song ended and off she went, smiling and as humble as when she arrived. And the entire audience walked out feeling lighter and happier than when we had headed in, despite it being over, and feeling like our souls had been fed the most incredible meal of love and history.
Patti says she will never tour again, and that is a shame. But by god we were lucky with this tour, it was unique and wonderful. I am certain there will be more books and I eagerly await the next.
An aside: prior to entering the concert, A and I participated in a short film, two young documentarians were working on about Patti. We had to say a line of lyrics or a quote of Patti's that resonated with us. They had a list of quotes on paper for those who cannot remember, I struggled but thought of a great quote from her concert earlier that month, "the guitar is the only weapon that we need."
I delivered it down the barrel, I was asked not to smile and to keep it straight. They shot head on from below, this was not going to end well. Then they asked me what I thought of Patti, I came up with something and that was that. Until the other week when the short film popped up on Facebook, I feature three times, the third quite significantly. I look tried and awful...of course. But by goodness, what a thrill!
And finally, my pics are pretty poor, because despite sitting so close, the lighting was very low and she wore black against back. But better than nothing.