Smith, sixty, proved she still has plenty of rebellion in her when she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. She admitted, in her speech, to ambivalence over joining rock's institutional elite, but she said her late husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5, had predicted she'd be inducted and asked her to accept it gracefully and not curse or get feisty. Then, with her band's amps cranked up, she sang the Rolling Stones' antiwar anthem "Gimme Shelter," a highlight of Twelve, and her most controversial song, "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger," which demands respect for the "black sheep" artists and nonartists living "outside of society."
Expect just this mix of rock-as-revolution passion and revelatory reverence at her Michigan Theater performance on Thursday, August 2. On the European leg of her tour, she's mixed songs from Twelve with her signature 1970s work, ranging from the defiant glory of "Gloria" to a version of "White Rabbit" that compares well to Jefferson Airplane's original to her biggest hit, "Because the Night," cowritten with Bruce Springsteen. Her sons with Fred, guitarist Jackson and drummer Jesse, are performing with her, a poignant reminder of her links to rock's past and her elder-stateswoman's role in inspiring its future.
[Review published August 2007]