CBGB stages last show

Patti Smith says farewell to punk’s birthplace

Punk-legend Patti Smith performed the last ever show at CBGB in New York tonight (October 15).

Several hours before the doors even opened, the queue of ticket-holders snaked for a block and-a-half, many of whom were not even admitted to the venue due to a capacity crowd.

Taking to the stage at 9.30pm, Smith performed two-part set lasting three and–a-half hours. The first half was a downbeat affair including covers of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and Blondie’s the ‘Tide Is High’, which Smith dedicated to Debbie Harry and her band.


Referring to lyric sheets throughout, Smith told the audience: “We’re here to prove that we didn’t improve. I have to look at paper for the words, that’s not a result of age, I did it 33 years ago, I was never very good at remembering stuff.”

The singer and her band played to a packed crowd including actors Ed Burns and Elijah Wood, plus ex-Talking Heads Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, E Street band/Soprano’s star Steve Van Zandt and singer Jesse Malin.

Sharing lengthy anecdotes with the crowd between songs, Smith at announced that “My favourite show here was Easter 1974, Television played. To nine people”.

Following a short break, the singer and her band returned to the stage to perform a more buoyant set featuring Television’s Richard Lloyd and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s bassist Flea, who played on a cover of The Who’s ‘My Generation’.

Just like Debbie Harry the night before, Smith also performed a cover by CBGB‘s royalty The Ramones, playing a rousing rendition of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ which received the loudest response of the evening.

Returning close to 1am for an encore, Smith delighted the audience playing ‘Gloria’, providing the club a fittingly roof-raising send off.


As previously reported, the club on New York‘s Bowery is closing after its lease expired and the new rent proved too costly. A franchise of CBGB is set to open in Las Vegas next year.

For Patti Smith‘s views on the end of CBGB go to NME.COM/News now.

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