Joan Baez at the Royal Albert Hall

I saw Joan Baez perform live last night at the Royal Albert Hall! I did, I did!!!

Thanks (a million thanks actually) to Shefaly who suddenly told me on Wednesday that she had an extra ticket for the concert on Thursday. I was jumping up and down even as I heard about it. This is Joan Baez. A woman whose voice has kept me going through many angst filled years.

Shefaly and I may have been some of the youngest members of the audience. The audience was filled with grey, long, flowing hair. It took them a little time to warm up, but clearly this was a generation to whom the music of the 60s would have meant a lot. A man sitting right next to Shefaly, seemed to know every song, every line. He was out of tune. But something was touching about that incredible passion and memory.

Joan Baez at Royal Albert Hall

What can I say about Joan Baez that hasn’t been said already. She sings beautifully. When she does her numbers without any instrument support, her voice comes out crystal clear. There is nothing to embellish. Nothing to cover up. And her sense of humour and charm just filled the hall. She struggled with her bracelet, and the rest of her band kept trying to take it off, as she rattled off story after another. The best bit was when she was singing Love is Just a Four-Letter Word and in the middle of it, she started singing like Dylan! Like the whole twang, jagged edgy voice. The audience was in splits.

Oh and she sang Amazing Grace. One of my favourite songs, and she got the entire audience to join her. Even the ones who didn’t know the lyrics. As she prepped them up for it. It was fantastic. Beautiful. You never quite realize that the voice on the CD is real, that there is absolutely nothing that needs to be modified to make it sound better. She was petite, tiny almost. And I wondered where the voice came from.

At various points in my life, I’ve wanted to be different things. One of them, (and I did have some talent then, mind you!) was to be able to sing on stage. Well some of that faded away. But on such nights, when I hear such overwhelmingly good music, I wonder what that would have been like. For now, the heart is full. Very full.

18 Comments

Filed under London, Music, Film and Art

18 Responses to Joan Baez at the Royal Albert Hall

  1. Joan Baez..!!
    lucky you..!!

    performance’s one stage is a bliss..
    agreed..!!

  2. Well I’ll be damned, here comes her ghost again :-)

    Lucky you! she happens to be my The favourite female vocalist..

  3. Omigod! That’s one of life’s “light up” moments! Not in the ciggie sense, though. ;0)

  4. Although I joined in the laughter, I have to say that after so many years, to take off on an old lover makes her sound bitter and a bit ungracious. Esp considering he may have greater fame but she has greater respect and regard from the music lovers. Avoidable I think…

    Everybody must move on (said to the beat of ‘everybody must get stoned!).

    Oh and I have news. An old friend from IIMA – also grey-haired so may be we can get away with not counting him ;-) – was also there. So he says on Facebook.

  5. Pingback: Untitled « La Vie Quotidienne

  6. sajith

    Thirty years down the line, we’ll all go to Britney concerts. And we’ll all sing (?) along out of tune.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/buckaroobob/485164515/

    (I too love Joan Baez. Can’t stare long enough.)

  7. km

    A man sitting right next to Shefaly, seemed to know every song, every line. He was out of tune.

    THAT man was there too? He follows me to every concert I attend! :D

  8. Neha, you lucky so and so! It’s been years since I heard her-WOW, WOW, and WOW:)

  9. Joan Baez is remembered by the Bangladeshis for her “The song of Bangladesh” sang in 1971 in “the concert for Bangladesh”.

    http://humanists.net/avijit/article/joan_baez_and_our_liberation_war.htm

    Did she sing this one too?

  10. Rezwan: Sadly no, just as she didn’t sing Diamonds And Rust and a few others (at least) I was expecting. :-(

  11. It’s so funny Neha, that I discovered Joan Baez in March this year. Well am from another generation altogether. But I find it thrilling each time you have a post that mentions her!! (which is quite often by the way)

  12. Helge Ottesen

    Hallo to You
    I came from Norway for this concert. I hoped for Day After Tomorrow, but it was still a very good concert. `Here is the set list as I wrote it down:
    JOAN BAEZ – Royal Albert Hall, London, England (2.october 2008)

    1) Lily of The West
    2) Scarlet Tide
    3) God is God
    4) Pretty Peggy-O
    5) With God On Our Side
    6) Farewell Angelina
    7) The Gospel Ship
    8) Christmas In Washington
    9) Joe Hill
    10) Honey Love
    11) What A Wonderful World
    12) The Rose of Sharon
    13) Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (solo)
    14) Mary Hamilton (solo)
    15) There But For Fortune (solo)
    16) I Am A Wanderer
    17) Long Black Veil
    18) Love Is Just A Four Letter Word
    19) Jerusalem
    20) First extra: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (including Thea Gilmore)
    21) Second extra: Amazing Grace (solo)

  13. Helge:

    This is great. She also sang Gracias a la vida on the first encore… You may want to add that to your list :-)

  14. Hello Neha,

    I can identify with all you felt. Listening to a singer that has figuratively held your hand through life can be extremely rewarding. In my case , of course it was Metallica but hey, I seek refuge in metal!

    Good work on the blog.

    Parul

  15. vibha

    I am harassed and killed by the war that she fought;
    My time losing itself in the space that she defines,
    In my head, it’s only notional, that I once loved
    And love even now

    I play her forward as she play me backwards
    And I stay with her
    Till the music dies in the scratching of a long pause
    Till her lovers’ applause goes missing

    Till it does and it doesn’t.

  16. vibha

    I am harassed and killed by the war that she fought,
    My time losing itself in the space that she defines,
    In my head, it’s only notional, that I once loved ,

    And love even now.

    I play her forward as she play me backwards
    And I stay with her
    Till the music dies in the scratching of a long pause,
    Till her lovers’ applause goes missing.

    Till it does and it doesn’t.

  17. That is so wonderful!

    I discovered her very recently. I was visiting my cousin – he was playing some songs of hers – I dropped everything I was doing, rushed to him, and said, “Who… who… who is THAT?” And I was hooked.