"I Don't Have A Stage Persona I'm There And I'm On."
What to expect from Patti’s UK shows in June and August, and what Joan Baez has to do with it.
SMITH’S summer shows in Britain and continental Europe come in a variety of settings: solo, with her band and in varying line-ups with Lenny Kaye and her son Jackson; in a Venice theatre, a Cardiff church and opening outdoor shows for Nick Cave in London (June 3) and Dublin (June 6). “I’ve played in front of 250,000 people and 25 people – I’m comfortable doing both,” she says. “I don’t mourn my record sales sliding down. I’m just happy I get more jobs – and good ones.” At 71, Smith prepares for touring in “my own romantic, military way. I fill up my little suitcase. I lace up my boots. As I age and the climate shifts, it affects my bronchial condition. I do my exercises, get acupuncture. “The last tour was to play Horses,” Smith continues. “We’re gonna do different songs, but I don’t go out to do experimental work. We have a young audience. They want to hear certain songs. If I still feel a connection, I’ll do them. I’m happy to do Because The Night for the 100,000th time. But I like interesting covers. I have a couple of new ones for this tour. “I don’t have a stage persona,” she insists. “I choose songs that have something to say: People Have The Power, Peaceable Kingdom, which I wrote about the Gaza Strip. Sometimes I’m so enraged about something I have to talk. Or I won’t say anything. I can sense when people know all this stuff, and they just want a night off from thinking about it.” On August 4, Smith plays the Cambridge Folk Festival. It is not, she claims, an unusual match. “Maybe I’ll do a couple of songs by Joan Baez. She was awesome – a skinny, weird black sheep with long, black hair. I learned about Bob Dylan through Joan Baez. I went to see her [in concert] when I was in 11th grade, and she introduced him. He had a plaid shirt, and his ears looked sort of big. “Bobby Dylan,” she called him.