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  • 1978-07-08_St-Petersburg-Times

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Opinion: High energy heats up summertime rock
By Bob Ross
St. Petersburg Times - July 8, 1978

TAMPA -- Pop-rock punk-poet Patti Smith proclaimed her intentions quickly. Her powerful but ponderous show Friday night in Curtis Hixon Hall had just begun when the lyrical dervish-queen of New York new wave shouted to some 5,500 fans: "Tampa, tonight we're going to settle some scores!"

Miss Smith's fans still shudder at the memory of her last Suncoast concert. On Jan. 23, 1977, opening for Bob Seger in the same hall, Miss Smith tripped on equipment and tumbled seven feet from the stage to the concrete floor. The resulting injuries kept her in a neck brace and off stage for months.

As if an energetic show could erase the memory of a broken neck, Miss Smith led her four sidemen through a set that made up in intensity what it lacked in prettiness.


Eighteen months and a hit album later, Miss Smith seems to have more than recovered from the accident. Her high-energy screech-and-yowl vocals, her prizefighter style of dancing, her crudely effective band and her flamboylantly confusing speech have made her the pre-eminent female exponent of street-wise rock poetry. At 31, she rules New York's neo-punk scene.

Highlighted by Because The Night, the hit single she co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen, Miss Smith's exuberant set climaxed a well received triple bill. Ticker prices were sliced to $2.98 advance, $3.98 at the door -- such reasonable fees should be levied more often.

Switching from 60s oldies to her own more complicated works, Miss Smith projects an image that is mannish, manic and sometimes even monotonous.

In fact even her best efforts -- such as her revival of the Who's The Kids Are Alright and the Stones' Time Is On My Side -- failed to restrain a steady stream of early departures throughout her set.

Apparently, Florida audiences much prefer the more accessible pop orientation of second billed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Tom Petty, who spent several years in the early 70s leading a Gainesville-based band called Mudcrutch, generated a nearly hysterical but well earned response, the type that occurs all too seldom on today's industralized rock scene. Paced by Petty and his aggressively clean guitarist Mike Campbell, the Heartbreakers earned two encore calls from an overwhelmed audience. As if to prove his roots in 1960s bar bands, Petty responded with two real oldies, Shout and Route 66.

Show opener Hoochie among St. Peterburg's choicest nightclub-rock bands, convinced the party-minded audience that at least one local band can hold its own on a full concert stage. In fact the managers of the Petty/Smith tour hired Hoochie to open for them in Miami tonight as well.