Peggy Seeger at 80- Queen Elizabeth hall- 6th June

It doesn’t seem 10 years ago when I reviewed
Peggy Seeger’s 70th birthday concert for the Morning Star. That concert was a bringing
together the best of the British and US folk tradition to pay tribute with
brothers Mike and Pete Seeger as guests. Sadly they are no longer with us and
with Peggy Seeger herself having experienced serious illness last year this
concert could seem a somewhat low key affair in comparison.

Those fears are
soon laid to rest however in what is a good humoured and crowd pleasing concert
interspersed with amusing anecdotes about growing old. Backed by her sons Neil
and Calum MacColl and with guest appearances by Paul Brady and Eliza Carthy
Seeger is easily able to get the audience singing in chorus with a range of
instruments including guitar, banjo, concertina and piano. Her songs reflect her
political concerns including trade union rights and environmental destruction.
Particularly noteworthy are “Sing About These Hard Times” and the poignant
“Aragon Mill.”

The second set sees Seeger sing a couple of songs from her new
CD “Everything Changes” including the title track with reflections on her mother
Ruth Crawford Seeger and “Swim to the Star” a haunting song about the Titanic
disaster. Then we have Neil and Calum MacColl leading on two of their father
Ewan’s songs “Sweet Thames Flow Softly” and “The Joy of Living” followed by
Seeger singing the song MacColl wrote for her “The First time Ever I Saw Your
Face.”

Finally all artists come on stage for a rousing rendition of “Get Up and
Go” a fun song about the trials and tribulations of growing old made famous by
legendary US folk group “The Weavers” whose members included Pete Seeger and the
recently departed Ronnie Gilbert. This is a truly joyous occasion leading many
audience members coming away thinking perhaps growing old won’t be such a bad
thing after all.

STEVEN JOHNSON

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