I have finally recovered from a jam-packed weekend in Perth which included a couple of Cezanne’s works at the Art Gallery, walking like an Egyptian at the Museum and cheering a grandson on in a winning semi-final at his Aussie Rules football club. Go Noranda!
However the highlight of the highlights was Saturday Night at the Concert Hall.
Eldest son treated his aged parental units to a night with Joan Baez.
Surprisingly, many in the audience were actually OLD! Not pretend old like this middle-aged curmudgeon. But Really REALLY OLD!
Kate Fagan from Sydney opened the evening with a set of four songs. This un-necessarily tall but beautifully voiced performer set the scene for a delightful evening. Oh, all right. She is willowy and I am short.
Joan Baez, without her flowing black hair but with a proudly dignified gray head, came onstage to a slightly over-awed audience. Here was the icon with whom we had all grown up and who had marched for many of the same causes we had.
Two songs in and we all began to relax. Four songs in, Joan kicked her shoes off. She blamed her sore feet on too many marches.
Then she sang of the Deportees, the Southern USA version of our Boat People. Concluding her introduction with the question, “Why can’t we be less exclusive and more inclusive?” A question which received an enthusiastic and appreciative round of applause. It seems we in Perth are a long way from Western Sydney! I spent much of the rest of the night wondering just how widespread is this desire for the inclusion of “Others” into our Australia. Is Scott Morrison just an aberration? I hope so.
Mixed with old favourites were two songs just for this Australian tour. “From Little Things Big Things Grow”, celebrating the struggle of our indigenous people against British tyranny and Eric Bogle’s “Who’ll Come A Waltzing Matilda With Me”. One of may favourite anti-war anthems. Respectful of the soldiers and their bravery, condemning of the motives of war.
As I walked out after five standing ovations had led to five wonderful encores I was left with twin thoughts. What a wonderful person, still fighting after all these years and why can’t we be more inclusive?
Thank you, Eldest Son. You brought great joy to an argumentative old curmudgeon!
My favourite two quotes from Joan Baez.
“The point of nonviolence is to build a strong new floor beneath which we can no longer sink; a platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, and the works. Give a man a decent place to stand. He’s been wallowing around in human blood and vomit and burnt flesh screaming how it is going to bring peace to the world.”
“All of us alive are survivors, but how many of us transcend survival?”