Peggy Seeger

Capstone Theatre, Liverpool
13th June 2015

Reviewed by John Owen

Where does Peggy Seeger fit in among the great folk singers of the last 50 years? Well if we go way back yonder to the old days. From IWW travelling songster and troubadour Joe Hill, an itinerant rambler, and hobos who were full time soap box agitators, spreading the message, like one big union picket line round the world.

To the likes of more commercially known folk singer of the Woody Guthrie This Land Is My Land and later Bob Dylan, Times Are a Changing, to Pete Seeger If I Had A Hammer, each epoch having its spokesperson.

Peggy sits alongside them, perhaps overshadowed as the wife of Ewan MacColl, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, recorded in her honour. They eloped, then fell in love.

She welcomed everyone to the packed Capstone Theatre and immediately filled the place with genuine love and empathy, putting expectant people at ease with her openhearted banter, candid confessions and sharp wit.

Our ears were grilled to warm mode receptive, that is Peggy, as accomplished a performer that ever graced a stage, and with a cut glass crystal voice, still vibrant and strong, encouraging singalongs. A join in attitude we are all producers by the audience.

We even had time for a coffee break as her daughter- in- law Kerry brought her a coffee on stage, as she feeling a bit tired.

This endeared her to the crowd, breaking the invisible divide between performer and audience. You felt you were at your nan's house on a Sunday for a singsong.

Classics of rebellion, anthems, teary hard time ballads and rousing union fighting choruses were all performed.

They were balanced with soft and emotional insights, as well as her version of First Time.....

Her two sons were both doing their turn, musically and vocally, singing tributes to Ewan’s vast repertoire of songs. Their voice were deep and masculine, yet never undercutting or broadcasting over hers. She apologised for her timekeeping but they kept her on track.

One song called Drones, in regard to the Israeli bombing of Palestine, was as critical as it was melodic. Incisive cutting-edge lyrics dominated, but there was also a flourish for the silly, the perverse and the weird.

Mostly associated with children, one 156 year-old declared, after 20 you’re finished. A tribute to her keen sensibilities she has the austere simple hard-nosed even yet very humane and personable. no diva crap, just down-to-earth lyrics she appreciates in others too.

Socialist and activists, and perhaps a smattering of the 1960s flower power era, seemed to comprise the audience, but she was able to transport us all back to the nursery, and land of dreams and wishes, and give us an adrenaline kick to create that better world.

She will have turned 80 years-old by the time this review gets to you. Carry it on, as Woody would say, This was the first time I had seen her perform live. I’ve got the CDs to prove it.

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Comment left by johno on 24th June, 2015 at 10:06
change the age of child to 15 from 156 somehow this crept in