Patti Smith, Living Colour Pay Tribute to the Who at Carnegie Hall

March 3, 2010 12:16 PM ET

"Carnegie Hall, I apologize for what I'm about to do," said surprise guest Patti Smith last night at a Who tribute concert at the famed New York venue before launching into a snarling punk version of "My Generation," during which she spit on the hallowed stage at least three separate times. (Iggy Pop did some damage to the very same stage at the Tibet House benefit last week.) Earlier in the night, Bobby McFerrin did the same song, though he used no instrument other than his mouth and the sound of his hand banging against his chest. Patti's was stronger (mainly because it didn't bear resemblance to the Cosby Show theme), but it proved that the Who's vast catalog is strong enough to survive nearly any re-interpretation.

Check out our huge collection of Who photos.

The night — which was a benefit concert for numerous organizations including Music Unites — began with a children's choir and the house band performing "Overture" and "Tommy Can You Hear Me." They were followed by Living Colour, who did an absolutely killer funk-metal "Eminence Front." It was a hard act to top, but Robyn Hitchcock's acoustic "Substitute" and the Smithereens' fierce one-two punch of "The Seeker" and "Sparks" came pretty close with an incredibly frantic energy. Bettye LaVette slowed things down with a beautiful torch ballad rendition of "Love Reign O'er Me" that was definitely the vocal highlight of the night.

Mose Allison, looking pretty spry for 82, was the only performer who did an original. He played "Young Man Blues" (which was a staple of the Who's set list in the 1960s and '70s) and its recent sequel "Old Man Blues." Beatles cover band Fab Faux stepped one inch outside of their comfort zone by playing "We're Not Gonna Take It." Every note and harmony from the Tommy finale was hit with stunning precision. The Gaslight Anthem tore into "Baba O'Riley" Pearl Jam style, while Hüsker Dü's Bob Mould dipped deep into the Who's catalog for a frenzied cover of "Can't Reach You" from The Who Sell Out. The night ended with all the performers jamming on a sloppy but fun "Won't Get Fooled Again," featuring an unprecedented two primal screams — one by Willie Nile and another by Nicole Atkins, who nailed it better than Daltrey has in quite some time.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »