Patti Smith is considered to be one of the finest and most important musicians in rock music over the last five decades, so it makes sense that she would choose to cover a classic tune from one of the most important bands to ever grace the Australian music scene while at a recent gig in Ireland.
Proving her status as the “punk rock laureate”, Smith prefaced her performance of the track with a two-and-a-half-minute diatribe about the relationship between Australian Indigenous people and the environment, as well as the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, before jumping into a rousing rendition of the ’80s hit.
“The settlers came and the tourists, and those who did not believe, and they tramped upon it,” Smith recited prior to her cover. “And some fell to their death pulling the red skin of the great rock down into the desert, creating the dust of sorrow all the way to the sea.”
“And beneath the sea, so many leagues beneath the sea, Great Barrier Reef, red as blood, red as a ruby,” she continued. “Until man infused it with his toxics, with oil, with his plastics, and choked the life out of it, until that great red reef bleached white like the bones of saints in the sun.”
The track is becoming a rather constant presence in Patti Smith’s current live sets, and this time came only two songs before the musician performed her 1996 tune ‘Beneath The Southern Cross’, turning her Irish gig into something of an Aussie affair.
However there’s bad news if you’re an Aussie fan hoping to see this cover performed live, as Patti Smith has made it clear she has no intentions to return to Australia in the future, performing her final Aussie shows following an appearance at Bluesfest in April of 2017.
Smith’s cover also comes just over a month since Canadian hardcore heroes Comeback Kid also decided to drop a cover of ‘Beds Are Burning’, releasing it on a 7″ single ahead of their tour with Shinedown last month.
Check out Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’:
Patti Smith @ Dublin, Ireland, 06/06/18 Setlist
‘People Have The Power’
‘Beds Are Burning’ (Midnight Oil cover)
‘Beneath The Southern Cross’
‘Peaceable Kingdom/People Have The Power’
‘Because The Night’
‘Pissing In A River’