We were forewarned:- there were signs in the foyer that there would be no warm-up act and no interval, just a straight performance. And that was exactly what we got – just under two hours of Joan Baez. The years have been kind, and at 71 she walked on stage looking as slim and elegant as ever. The hair is now cropped and the colour is silver, but then that applied to most of the audience as well.
The stage was bare apart from a comfy sofa and a standard lamp, and she was accompanied for most of the evening by her son Gabriel Harris on percussion and the talented Dirk Powell on mandolin, accordion and just about everything else.
The atmosphere was relaxed and the songs were a mixture of old favourites and the not so old – Farewell Angelina, God On Our Side, House of the Rising Sun, and Diamonds and Rust, a reference to her relationship with Bob Dylan. We also got John Lennon’s Imagine and Donovan’s Catch the Wind, and the evening finished with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Blowin’ in the Wind. Her voice is still haunting although she avoids many of the high notes now, and I did think that the tempo of some of the songs (particularly House of the Rising Sun) was a bit slower than it used to be. But she can certainly still sing. And she still believes in what she sings.
We went home happy, and although the singer is still a protester I wondered how many of the audience still are?!