First I have a little present for you, here:
And now, let me tell you all about the concert I was fortunate to attend in Monaco on Tuesday, October 4.
Joan Baez in Monaco?
The idea itself is preposterous. No place can be more remote from her world than this secluded, exclusive ghetto for the wealthy.
This is not the kind of city where you often see Amnesty International members standing in the lobby of a luxurious concert hall.
This is rather the kind of place where protest usually takes place when someone, under some influence, has lost too much money at the Casino.
This is the kind of place where very few people indeed can imagine ‘living with no possessions’.
So, words fail at the very thought of going to see the icon of the rebellious sixties performing just there.
Still, there we went, and lo and behold, in the lobby, there were five Amnesty petitions to sign.
True, the house, as expected, was full of older former hippies sitting next to those who, as John Lennon put it, could shake their jewelry instead of clapping. Sometimes they were the same people.
The show started a little later than announced, because Prince Albert of Monaco turned up late. Punctuality is no longer the mark of the aristocracy.
The minute he’d sat down in his box, with everyone craning their necks away from the stage to take a peek at who he was with, the lights went off and there she came on the stage.
The magic worked.
Not in the first two songs, though. The lady needed to get her voice accustomed to the humidity of the Mediterranean shores, or maybe to the fierce air-conditioning. And maybe also to the quiet audience whose applause, at first, was more discreet than the automobiles parked outside the big hall.
But after these two songs, there she was, as in our dreams of old. Singing all the songs we like to hear over and over again. Those written by Bob Dylan, by Leonard Cohen, even by Johnny Cash - all those we know the lyrics by heart, but never knew we had not forgotten them over the years. Gracefully, she introduced ‘her band’: her guitarist-cum-pianist, whose hands are as magical on the guitar as on the fabulous banjo he played on some songs.
And, mid-show, she gave us a present.
She introduced another woman singer. Someone I bet no one there had heard of. A younger French woman, who, Joan Baez announced, is tri-lingual.
And this woman, MARIANNE AYA OMAC started singing, playing the guitar in a wizardly way.
Flamenco? Blues? Rock? Gypsy? All these influences were mixed in a marvelous way, and her voice… Wow!
What a voice!
Yet, all along one could not but be amazed at the generosity of the star who had then moved to the back of the stage, to let her protégée bask in the warmth of the welcome she was given by this so-fussy audience. After all, most people had paid a (fair) price to hear Joan Baez in person, and there they were, having been ‘forced’ to listen to an unknown guest star. Never mind – an audience can tell emotion and talent when they hear it and see it. And this was it: a gift from the heart of Ms Joan Baez. It beat everything.
Well, more than jewelry was shaken when Marianne left the stage! It was total enthusiasm.
And then Joan Baez came back into the light, and then, much too soon for us all, she said they were closing. But she didn’t, really. She came back for four more songs, and then left us with the grace of a swallow, so proud and free. Donna, Donna… Donna…
Just the way we remembered her, and will keep her forever and ever in our hearts.
‘Rest forever, deep in our hearts’, Madame Joan Baez - and indeed, ‘Gracias a la vida’ que ma ha dado tanto, and in particular such flickers of pure delight.
As a bonus, here is Marianne’s site; it is in French, I am afraid, but the welcome song is in beautiful Spanish.
And please, don’t miss this on her site. Click here.
As for details about Joan Baez’s band, click here.