Patti Smith reads and rocks at Montclair Literary Festival

Patti Smith Montclair

Patti Smith reads at the First Congregational Church in Montclair, as part of the Montclair Literary Festival.

Here’s a weird coincidence. Patti Smith has performed in Montclair twice in the course of her career. And both times were on March 18.

On March 18, 1979, she and her Patti Smith Group performed at Montclair State University. And on March 18, 2018, she appeared at the First Congregational Church as part of the Montclair Literary Festival. Over the course of about 80 minutes, she performed seven songs with her longtime guitarist, Lenny Kaye — including her inspirational anthem “People Have the Power,” her haunting “Dancing Barefoot” and her Bruce Springsteen collaboration, “Because the Night” — and read her poem “Reflecting Robert” and passages from her books “Devotion (Why I Write),” “Just Kids” and “M Train.”

She said all the readings revolved around the idea of “devotion”: “devotion to one’s loved one, one’s children, one’s friends, one’s craft, one’s vocation, one’s garden, whatever we pin our faith on, and our love, and our loyalty,” she said.

The setlist is below. And under that is an incomplete setlist from March 18, 1979 (as reported by Not surprisingly, both appearances featured “Because the Night,” her biggest hit. Much more unexpectedly, both also featured Elvis Presley covers (“Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Jailhouse Rock”).

MARCH 18, 2018
“Reflecting Robert” poem
“Just Kids” passage
“Just Kids” passage
“My Blakean Year”
“Devotion (Why I Write)” passage
“Beneath the Southern Cross”
“M Train” passage
“Dancing Barefoot”
“M Train” passage
“Because the Night”
“M Train” passage
“Can’t Help Falling in Love”
“People Have the Power”

MARCH 18, 1979
“So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”
“Jailhouse Rock”
“Citizen Ship”
“Broken Flag”

“My Generation”
“Ask the Angels”
“Because the Night”


Since launching in September 2014,, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of any amount to via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.


Custom Amount

Personal Info

Donation Total: $20.00

Explore more articles:

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter