The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was sold out. Joan Baez was in town and ready to perform. The First Lady of the folk music world stepped out to thunderous applause and a standing ovation – even before she sang her first note.
Sure, people were there to hear the songs she is best known for: the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” great old folk favorites like “Stewball,” and the title track of her 1989 album, “Diamonds and Rust,” an autobiographical song about her relationship with Bob Dylan. (We all know who the ‘diamond’ was in that one.) But Joan’s voice on any song transcends all of that hit-music hype.
The 69-year-old Baez dipped into the songbags of Woody Guthrie (“Deportee”), John Prine (“Hello in There”), Tom Waits (“The Day After Tomorrow”) and a pair of Steve Earle nuggets (“God Is Good” and “Jerusalem”). And, yes, Dylan was well represented, too, with “Farewell, Angelina,” in particular.
Joan Baez’s performance was lovely, captivating and impassioned. Accompanied only by multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell, her voice was in top form, and she transformed the entire Music Hall into an intimate coffeehouse. She sang the important songs… and people listened.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Michael Eck’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Before a sold-out crowd, she touched upon humor on the race horse ode ‘Stewball’ to heart-wrenching beauty on ‘Jerusalem,’ to everything else in between. Throughout, her singing and guitar playing were relaxed but confident, if not perfect. But hitting every note perfectly wasn’t the point – it was the overall effect of the melodies, the words and Baez’s often haunting vocals that pushed the performance into the stratosphere.”