Every Thursday, we dig through the Paste Cloud archives to revisit some of our favorite old concert videos and audio. This week, we’ve got material from Dr. John, Patti Smith and Santana.
Dr. John, Live from Newport Jazz Festival, 2006
With Newport Jazz Festival happening this coming weekend, it seemed appropriate to revisit a classic performance from the festival by the maestro of New Orleans jazz/blues himself, Dr. John. This stellar set comes from Newport Jazz Festival 2006, when JVC was the sponsor, a few years before the festival went non-profit. Dr. John kicks off the show with a definitive version of “Wild Honey.” From there, the Doctor and his band tackle many archetypal standards of New Orleans music, including “St. James Infirmary,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing” and “Right Place, Wrong Time.” The intimate crowd definitely seems to be enjoying the performance.
The set closes with the band taking on “Goin’ Back To New Orleans.” This tune features solos from nearly all the members of Dr. John’s ensemble. The level of musicianship in this section is noticeably evident. “Goin’ Back To New Orleans” ends up lasting over 10 minutes, with Dr. John switching frequently between piano and organ. As the set comes to a close, we see the Doctor trot backstage, leaving his band to finish the job. All in all, this is an exemplary set from one of the legends of jazz music. The 75-year-old icon continues to perform today, and you can see him perform with The Night Trippers on his current tour at a venue near you. —Ben Rosner
Patti Smith Group, Live From The Capitol Theatre, 1979
As the high priestess and resident poet of punk, Patti Smith was always able to stand alone even amongst the most outlandishly dressed punks. Always clad in her distinct uniform of classy but disheveled gutter punk style, Smith was striking enough to turn heads before even opening her mouth. If anyone feels the need to argue, just one look at the hauntingly stark cover of her seminal debut Horses will silence any detractors. As enticing as Smith is in her own right, her visceral performances are what earned her the title as the “Godmother of Punk,” a title she still carries proudly to this day.
“I’m telling you something New Jersey, if it don’t come out fucking good then we ain’t putting it out,” she dictates to the roaring crowd of New Jersey’s Capital Theatre in 1979 during the intro to “Revenge.” Along with the rightfully dubbed Patti Smith Group backing her up, it is promised from the beginning that the following 25-song set will be everything but predictable. Smith’s passion to her craft is palpable even as it changes forms throughout the show. She opens the show stoic and steadfast with the poignant “Privilege (Set Me Free)” before grinning like a madwoman on “So You Want to be a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star,” reiterating the words “Oh, you’re a little insane” throughout the song’s ending cadence.
It can be easy to confuse Smith’s own insanity with her artistry, but the two act as one in the same to fuel her singular amalgamation of poetry and punk. Midway through “Revenge,” Smith halts the band when she finds the sound quality subpar, but trudges on through the set list, only to play the song again without a single stop. While it could be seen as demanding, Smith is not looking for a single form of perfect. By the time the band plays Smith’s biggest hit “Because the Night,” her voice is already too torn up from her constant howling to even feign a perfect performance. However, Smith’s excellence lies strictly in the attitude she exudes. Considering the sheer amount of energy and emotion in her performance, Smith is perfect in the most punk sense of the word. —Kurt Suchman
Santana, Live from Tanglewood, 1970
In the late ‘60s, Santana surfaced from the Bay Area as one of the most stylistically exciting purveyors of classic rock. With their Latin American-influenced, imported sounds, and the boundless creativity of their instrumentals, the group made it big as a percussive unit that’s never afraid to try something new. On August 18, 1970, the band performs at the Tanglewood as part of their post-debut album tour, bringing pan-cultural tunes to the Berkshire Hills right before the release of their second studio album Abraxas.
The beginning of the set includes “Black Magic Woman,” a Fleetwood Mac original that Santana borrowed and revved up with fiery guitar lines and mambo-style beats. The song is followed by “Oye Como Va,” a personalized effort of the 1963 track by Latin jazz musician, Tito Puente, whose mix is aptly renewed with organ arrangements. Exotic inflections skillfully intermingle with rock strictures, making for an entirely new avenue of world music that had previously never been a viable part of the American canon.
Shortly after, they perform one of their biggest hits, “Evil Ways,” with Carlos Santana jamming out on the guitar while Gregg Rolie handles the organ fills. The fun really pivots with “Soul Sacrifice,” an exuberant track celebrated with bongo lashes and Son Cubano flair—eventually leading to the most percussion-fueled communion of the night. With their multi-genre spins and groundbreaking artistry, Santana know exactly how to put on a show like none other.—Mady Thuyein