When: Sat., Dec. 31, 9:30 p.m. 2016
It’s been four years since her last studio album, Banga (Columbia), but Patti Smith is omnipresent, a persistent voice of righteousness and social conscience most recently in the news serving as Bob Dylan’s unofficial surrogate at the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, where she gave an indelible performance of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” all the more poignant for flubbing the lyrics in the process. For some time she’s spent the New Year performing in New York, but in 2016 she’s in her native Chicago for two concerts. On Friday she and her band will give one of their occasional performances of her classic 1975 debut album, Horses, and as ambivalent as I am about the practice of playing an old record front to back, Smith is that rare artist—even as she turns 70 today—who has the power and magnetism to erase any structural conceit, riveting listeners with everything she does. On Saturday she’ll survey the full expanse of her long career. Both endeavors have the potential to blow minds, because as strong or varied as the material may be, all that matters is Smith onstage.