Melbourne Festival: Patti Smith’s Horses

An all-star cast took to the stage over two jam-packed shows on Sunday night at the majestic Melbourne Town Hall, to perform a thrilling interpretation of Patti Smith’s album ‘Horses’.

Smith has just released her new memoir, ‘M Train’ and to coincide with the anniversary of the landmark 1975 album ‘Horses’, she’s touring the album around Europe and the USA. Unfortunately she decided not to come to Australia, however Adalita (Magic Dirt), Courtney Barnett, Gareth Liddiard (The Drones) and Jen Cloher brought the album to Melbourne themselves, each performing two songs.

There was a dramatic hush-hush in the audience when Adalita spoke the opening lines, ‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine’, and we knew we were in for an absolute treat. Cloher performed with an electric stage presence, channeling Smith’s drama and poetry – the crowd literally roaring after her rendition of ‘Land’ came to a close.

The highlight for me was Barnett performing ‘Break It Up’, delivering the song with her usual melodious drawl and then bringing it to the boil. Liddiard’s masculinity helped the interpretation along, and he performed the famously wordy ‘Birdland’ with heart and ease. A fresh-faced seventies-esque drummer who knew the beats, joined Dan Luscombe and Steve Hesketh from The Drones, as the band behind the voices.

Together the four friends did an encore of ‘My Generation’ by The Who (which featured as a bonus live track on the original ‘Horses’ album), in which they totally let loose under the pipe organ, smashing cymbals and stomping on stage. They finished with a bang and left the audience on a high as we walked back out into the daylight. The tight tunes, the bond of friendship and the pride in all the pieces made the performance a real musical gem and certainly won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

– Lisa
Lisa Martin is a lover of music, words and frolicking in the garden. She’s also an avid people watcher and a qualified teacher who doesn’t teach.

The Melbourne Festival runs 8-25 October. Make sure to check out our guide and our reviews, and book yourself in for a wonderful evening.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of TS Publicity.