The concert film follows Smith and her band for two L.A. shows for the 40th anniversary of their debut album.
People have the power to redeem the work of idiots, but Patti Smith has the power to breathe new life into her most famous work, with surprises.
At the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Horses: Patti Smith and her band on April 23, Smith, guitarist Lenny Kaye, her son Jackson and the rest of her musical outfit were guests of honor and headlining. After showing the documentary, the screen flew up as the credits rolled and Smith and her band emerged behind them with nothing but the bare brick wall of the Beacon Theater.
For the fortieth birthday of Horses their debut album from 1975, Smith took a new live version of it in New York's Electric Lady Studios in front of a studio on audience and then to the streets to perform the full-length album in packed theaters around the world. Director Steven Sebring, who worked with Smith and Company on his first documentary "Patti Smith: Dream of Life of 2008 joined her caravan and Horses: Patti Smith and Her Band hovers over a two-night stand in January 2016 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles.
Horses: Patti Smith and her band is intimate, visceral and raw, and the choice of it at the Beacon Premiere was smart: The theater is revered by musicians for its acoustics, and the extraordinary sound design and Sebring's intuitive focus have turned the documentary into an immersive experience.
Before the screening, Sebring encouraged the audience to sing along especially for the calls and answers from "Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)" and "Country: Horses / Land of the Thousand Dances / La Mer (De)." The recorded applause and cheers of the Wiltern crowd reverberated and bounced against the walls of the beacon, as if the two listeners had merged into one unit. Smith commanded the attention of both masses, and Singe's lens was fixed on details – stray strands of her silver mane; the lines on the palms of her outstretched hands; the angles that fold her face when she mocks – and stolen moments. Not an ounce of Smith's intensity was lost on screen, though Sebring provided ample laughs with a crushing exchange in which the rocker launched a hacker and shouted, "Take your top off!" at the Wiltern: "For you, right? Darling, I got better at grave than you."
The hecklers were also in New York. As soon as the film had completed part of the program and the performance was underway, a man screaming on the balcony was addressed in the same way. The tension broke with a smile from Smith, and she went over to a cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and dedicated the anthem of the 60s Jaclyn Corin, Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Alex Wind, a / k / "The Parkland Five," a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who were passionate about gun control and organized the march for our lives after shooting on February 14 at their school.
"The Parkland 5 is the damned hope of this planet!" She explained. "Your thing is our future!"
The cover was not the only curve ball. After Smith introduced the members of her band at the end of the night, Smith needed a moment. I thanked other people in the audience and sent another thank you to someone outside the stage, who was waiting behind the curtain. Springsteen then sauntered out, and the two friends pounced on "Because the Night," Springsteen's single on Smith's third album, Easter. Springsteen got involved and Michael Stipe entered the big final of "People Have The Power".
At one point, the instruments fell just before the last chorus, and Smiths was the only voice that sounded as their band and the crowd clapped out the rhythm. Springsteen and Stipe also clapped along as well as holding the beat of the players next to them and the dedicated fans dancing in the hallways.
Horses: Patti Smith and her band is the best kind of concert film because it transports you. Smith's bellows sounded two years ago in Los Angeles, but the power of Sebring's work brings you back to the Wiltern, so you hear the wisdom and strength scorched in their live show. Luckily, the premiere of the documentary has done the opposite. It forced us to be present and that forced us to be grateful, because an album that brings generations together to sing with idols and strangers is worth celebrating – especially if the woman who forged it chorus with a few tricks up your sleeve.