“People, behold: the greatest weapon of my generation,” Patti Smith shouted to the mighty throng assembled before her at the Newport Folk Festival on Saturday afternoon. She was referring to the electric guitar hanging around her neck, which she’d brutalized to the point of broken strings in the chaotic version of the Who’s “My Generation” that ended her set. An audience that extended to the Fort Adams State Park shoreline and beyond roared in approval.
A punk-era icon vital and plugged in at 69, Smith might seem at a glance an unlikely figure to headline something identified as a folk-music event. But her exhortation harked back across the years to the slogan Woody Guthrie plastered on his own guitar: “This machine kills fascists.”
In fact, Smith had proved ideally suited to Newport — present-day sold-out spectacle and turbulent history alike — as soon as she hit the stage. She opened with Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather,” and then followed with an incantatory recitation of Allen Ginsberg’s footnote to “Howl” — profanities intact. Read more at Boston Globe.