Joan Baez wows Glasgow

Another first for me. Last night I witnessed the hard men of Glasgow simper under the hypnotic vocals of legend Joan Baez. The show at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was special for me because having just learned the rudiments of guitar I have a renewed love of all things folk.

Joan Baez was a huge draw when I was a child and to have the chance to see her singing live was a privilege.

This lady, who has shorn her hippy hair, now looks stunning with a trendy silver crop. She retains the crisp vocals and astounding range of early Joan. However she did admit last night, after forgetting lyrics for a second time, that her brain cells are not what they were. Her band played a little out of sync with her; this was explained when she introduced them as having met her only a week and a half ago. Because of this I enjoyed her solo set best, just Joan and her guitar.

It is a testament of our time, that her signature protests songs have now been reintroduced into the set. Dylan’s God On Our Side was particularly telling.

The humor was provided by the guy in the first row who persisted in shouting out requests, despite Joan’s plea for a translator. The affection the crowd poured towards Lady Joan was touching. I suspect she has a long career ahead of her.

Just Read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

In my quest to read more African books in 2008 than I have in my previous fifty years, it was a delight to stumble upon Poisonwood Bible in the Bibliocafe. The book is a former Oprah book club choice but, having now peeked into the list, with some exceptions, I am beginning to think that is no bad thing.

Set in the Belgian Congo at the time of Independence, this novel tells the tale of an evangelical minister who drags his wife and four daughters into the jungle to convert the natives. Told through the five very distinctive female voices, this is a masterpiece in character, plot and sentiment. With the exception of War and Peace it is the best book I have read this year.

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