Joan Baez - lead vocals, guitar
For her spring 1977 U.S. tour, folk pioneer Joan Baez toured with a full band but only used them in the second set. The performance captured here is the more loose fitting first set, featuring only Baez and her acoustic guitar. Recorded at New York's legendary Palladium Theater, she opens with a heartfelt read of Kris Kristofferson's country anthem, "Help Me Make It Through The Night."
Baez was unusually talkative throughout the entire show, explaining to the New York crowd that the first set will be just her and her guitar, and she'll have two songs at the onset where photos are allowed. Furthermore, she tells the audience that they can request songs. Set two, she instructs, will be more structured with her band. Obviously, she does it with humor, but it all sounds a little like a high school pep rally.
"Help Me Make It Through The Night." is followed with the surprise of the evening: the 1958 Penguins hit, "Earth Angel," which Baez does a cappella. "This is the first song I ever played in public," she announced at the beginning of the classic song. "By public, I mean, junior high school. Try to imagine me back then."
She follows it with an old traditional country blues song "Honey Love," which has somewhat controversial lyrics. She explains to the audience this was another song she did as teen, and those lyrics had her father "very concerned." As the audience laughter dies down, she moves into "Silver Dagger," which goes back to her first album in 1961. "This is the most requested song since I started singing in public, and it is from my first album." She also does "There But For Fortune" which she says is "in memory of Phil Ochs, her friend and co-folk pioneer who had sadly killed himself about a year earlier.
An audience member shouts out for her to do Leonard Cohen's folk classic, "Suzanne " and she obliges before finishing the set with some new originals and several Baez classics. There is a faithful rendition of her mid '60s folk-pop hit. "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word," which leads into her folksy and soulful a cappella version of the R&B classic, "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man."
Next up is her version of the Dylan anti-war classic, "Blowin' In the Wind," which she dedicates to the United Farm Workers. A few more originals follow and she finally closes with, "Gulf Winds," the title track of her 1975 A&M classic. Oddly enough, Baez takes time in the show to tell an off-color joke about a parrot who can't stop using bad language. It is the last thing you expect to hear at a Baez concert, but then again, she has never been about being predictable.