March 20th, 2012

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Diamonds and Rust

On Friday I met long-time LJ Friend land_girl to see Joan Baez perform at the Royal Festival Hall, which was pretty much a dream date. To make the occasion even more special, our group of four had a box, from which we peered haughtily down at hoi polloi in the stalls.

The set and accompaniment were minimal: there was a large sofa and standard lamp, and lots of instruments. Joan was assisted by two male musicians and one fresh-faced female roadie who I think was a relation. The whole concert had a cosy, family feel; the sofa probably helped.

land_girl had expressed a desire to hear 'Farewell, Angelina', which was granted two or three songs in. I was especially pleased by 'House of the Rising Sun' and a Donovan number, 'Catch the Wind', though I still haven't experienced my very favourite, 'Sweet Sir Galahad', live.

All of us were agreed that it would be wonderful if she did 'Diamonds and Rust', which was missing from the setlist when I saw her a couple of years ago.

For those not in the know, 'Diamonds and Rust' is a song about feelings evoked by an unexpected phone call from an old lover (OK, OK: from Bob Dylan). IMHO, and in most other people's, it is Joan's best self-penned work.

Cheers and gasps all round when we recognised the introduction. We waited for the lovely lines:
Ten years ago, I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust.

"Check this out," Joan laughed, pausing for a beat. "Fifty years ago, I bought you some cufflinks..."

When the audience got on its feet to applaud, she seemed to notice the boxes for the first time and peered up, shading her eyes. She waved to us! I maintain, in fact, that she was waving directly to me, since I was the one standing up in the box, clapping my hands above my head.

A joyous 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down', with full audience participation, marked the end of the pre-encore. Enticed back, Joan gave us three more songs. The very last of these, our reward for being a wonderful audience, was a magical 'Blowing In The Wind' in which we all, very softly, joined.

We wanted more, of course, but Joan mimed laying her head on her hands. Bedtime for old ladies, and younger ones too.

land_girl and I strolled back to Waterloo together, talking all the way to the Jubilee Line. I hope we can do this again soon, and I hope that, whatever the gig, it will be half as good as this one.