She’s still got a long way to go with this, her ‘final’ big tour. I believe Scandinavia and now parts of Britain are just the beginning for Joan Baez. We caught her in Glasgow on Friday night, and it took me a few songs to work out why I felt different.
I simply don’t know when I was last surrounded by so many people of mostly the right political persuasion. And they sing so well! There’s a special feeling when an audience joins in and many voices sing together. Anyone not fluent in Spanish, was still able to lalala along with Gracias a la vida.
Although Joan has a new album out – Whistle down the wind – she knew to dish the new songs out sparingly to keep the fans happy. Some of the songs, like House of the rising sun, are only new to her, which makes life easier. There’s no mistaking that songs like Farewell Angelina and Joe Hill go down best. We like what we like.
It was good to hear that all the names of the formerly unknown victims of the plane crash in Deportee have now been discovered, and that Joan has sung to their surviving families. It’s been far too long.
Joan paid tribute to the teenagers in Florida, saying it’s the first positive anti-gun movement she has known in her life. Joan also sang a beautiful song about how President Obama sang Amazing Grace to the members of the church in Charleston, after another mass shooting. Sometimes songs like that are worthier than they are beautiful, but this one was just right.
When Joan was sixteen, her family feared she was going nowhere, only playing the banjo, so an aunt took her to hear Pete Seeger, and that seems to have done the trick. She mentioned Dylan, and she sang Me and Bobby McGee, which really brought back memories. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp that Joan was a fully functioning and famous adult when I was still a child. (I’ve caught up pretty good now.)
As usual there was no interval, and Joan was on stage for the duration, accompanied by Dirk Powell on ‘all’ instruments and her son Gabe on drums, with her assistant Grace running in with a freshly tuned guitar after each song. Joan had a tray with her drinks on, which were put to good use when a fan insisted on giving her a flower. I’d like to think it was a tulip. I hope she remembered not to accidentally drink the tulip.
The local ‘polite’ song was a [to me] unknown Scottish ballad; the only one Joan required sheet music for. Understandable if there is a new one for every part of the world.
Gracias a la vida was the last official song, but Joan said not to worry. We promptly got Dixie and Imagine as extras, followed by that famous road song, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, with plenty of hints that it was time to go home. When that didn’t work, she resorted to Homeward Bound.
So we went home. But for anyone wanting to catch Joan, there is plenty of her Fare Thee Well tour left, all the way through to 2019.