Patti sees sights and understands plight - Patti Smith interview by James Nuttall

Patti Smith at Hebden Bridge Trades Club, September 2012. Picture by Sarah Mason Photography
Patti Smith at Hebden Bridge Trades Club, September 2012. Picture by Sarah Mason Photography

The Hebden Bridge Trades Club hosted a show by the Godmother of Punk on Saturday night.

Patti Smith used her day off to play an acoustic set of songs, readings and poetry at the small venue, and donated her fee to the town’s flood appeal.

In such a tight schedule, she still managed to pack in some sight-seeing.

“We were in Haworth, and we visited the Bronte parish and the museum. The most moving thing was to go to St Thomas’ church yard and visit the grave of the great Sylvia Plath. It was very moving to visit her modest little grave.”

“We’ve gone about this town. It’s just so beautiful here that everything is sightseeing… you have the biggest cows I’ve ever seen!”

In November Patti will tour the biggest arenas in America with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but she says size is not important.

“As a performer, the difference between one room or the other is technology. My job is to communicate whether it’s 20,000 or 20 people. I’m still the same person, I just will adjust.”

Smith is now 65, and is still enjoying touring. “I don’t do what I don’t enjoy unless it’s something that has to be done. I love touring because it’s a way to communicate with a lot of people… meeting people and to communicate what’s going on in our world and share ideas. It’s fun”

Although nerves play no part, she can still be a little insecure people won’t come to her shows. “Sometimes I’ll feel a little nervous when we’re going into a place we’ve never been and I think “will anybody come”? Then I go out and there’s thousands of people. But that’s my only worry. I still worry people won’t come, but they do… oh, they do.”

l A TRADES Club spokesman said Patti Smith donated her fee to help flood victims as she empathised with people’s plight. She and her late husband - MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith - once had a home that was often flooded. “She said she really understood what people were going through and offered the advice ‘watch out for the mould,’” he said.

The artist enjoyed her visit to the area so much he said she was planning to return to Hebden Bridge sometime next spring to perform a concert.