Friday, 13 November 2009

Joan Baez in Salisbury

There is something slightly surreal in seeing a giant of the 60s folk revival playing to a crowd of 800 in the city hall in Salisbury. But it proved a great venue in which to see a still feisty and inspiring Joan Baez on Wednesday night. She says she has never been happier doing concerts than now, and it shows. I've been going to Baez concerts over the last two decades, and she has never been better than in her more recent ones. Having missed her in Bristol, it was a pleasant surprise when she added Salisbury to her tour. She went through a phase of trying to jazz up her act with rock numbers that never quite worked. Now, over two hours without interval, she combines more effective newer numbers, from her latest CD produced by Steve Earle (of The Wire fame) with a brilliant rendition of old standards like Farewell Angelina, Baby Blue, Deportee and Long Black Veil. Sometimes she does these with minimum accompaniment, which is when she is at her best, but this time she was joined by an excellent group of musicians who gave her act the folk feel it deserved. With an encore of Blowing in the Wind and The Night they Drove ol' Dixie Down, she brought a hugely appreciative audience to their feet. True, her voice is not quite what it was, though it remains remarkably pure, and she missed the odd line, but for someone who recorded her first album in 1959, a night with Joan Baez is still an evening to remember.

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