25 March 2014 (gig)
26 March 2014
When two American National treasures get together for the first time in the UK you are pretty much assured a worthy spectacle.
The 'Together At Last' tour is just that, a perfectly put together concept with two joint sets that literally fly by.
Emerging from the classic Greenwich Village folk scene Tom Paxton and Janis Ian are two troubadours separated by a generation yet sharing folk influences as well as an affinity for tackling controversial issues including the Civil Rights Movement.
Both artists are visibly comfortable with the other as they walk unassumingly onto the large Barbican stage. Paxton's 'How Beautiful Upon The Mountain' kicks off proceedings and the audience is, somewhat optimistically, asked to join in with the chorus, an offer that is taken up with more candour as the evening progresses.
Joining together and singing on one another's songs the partnership both comforts and cajoles with Paxton standards 'Bottle of Wine', 'Ramblin' Boy' and 'The Last Thing on My Mind' all making the set.
His heartfelt song penned for his daughters 'Jennifer and Kate' also strikes a chord with the more mature audience but for me the surprises came from Janis Ian.
I openly admit to not being overly familiar with either artist but her rendition of 'Society's Child', written at the age of 15 about interracial romance and 'The Tiny Mouse' her rebut to Paxton's 'Jennifer and Kate' telling the audience "we all know how much Tom loves his kids... I detest them. I had a little mouse instead", certainly changed all that.
'Married in London' and Grammy winning 'At Seventeen' also wowed the packed theatre. She plays her guitar with a stone wall assertiveness that reassures the listener at every turn and added to her strong tender vocals it's a heady mix climaxing when she chose to unplug and play unaided by mics and amps, a truly poignant moment.
A worthy mention also goes out to internationally renowned multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock whose accompaniment on mandolin was nothing less than perfect.
At 76 and 62 respectively Tom Paxton and Janis Ian continue to burn brightly with a catalogue of songs and emotions that have stood the test of time and have slowly but surely etched their place in history.
A breath of fresh air in todays synthetic music scene.