PITTSBURGH — In a purposeful step and her usual flair, Judy Collins made a grand appearance on stage at the Byham Theater on Thursday to keep things going with a few tricks.
She introduced herself as American Idol of 1956 and said, “This is a song you must remember… I hope you remember.”
Collins then unleashed her ethereal, yet punchy voice on “Both Sides Now,” a 1967 Joni Mitchell-penned Top 10 smash hit. When Collins plays next to “Diamonds & Lust,” which is far more true to Joan Baez’s original than the metallic remake of Judas Priest, she almost feels a tingle of excitement from the mostly baby boomer audience. I was able to.
Collins, flanked by piano player Russell Walden and pedal steel/electric guitarist Thad DeBrock, took center stage in a shimmery black top that offset her cropped white hairstyle. The trio maintained a classy and elegant sound, with an emphasis on Collins’ full soprano voice and ironic storytelling.
Creative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards see Collins perform Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” Jimmy Webb’s “Highwayman,” and Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” in a 90-minute set. tucked into her 90-minute set and remains her calling card. and “Mr. Tambourine Man”, she took her hands off her acoustic guitar and made a “Come on, come on,” gesture of bending her fingers to convince the crowd to sing along.
Collins recalled being unimpressed with Dylan when he first saw him as a vagabond artist covering a Guthrie song in Denver in 1959. He was Robert Zimmerman back then. Years later, in New York, Collins saw him performing again, now billed as Dylan, and she was still unimpressed. That changed when I found out I had written ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’. Collins told fans in Pittsburgh that she attended the party where Dylan wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
Collins was undoubtedly at the forefront of music history when she gleefully sang “Suzanne,” her 1966 single, and casually revealed the fact that the song brought fame to author Leonard Cohen. is not.
Collins thanked Pittsburgh’s prominent poet Samuel Heyzo (founder of the city’s International Poetry Forum) for his encouragement going back half a century. Distinguished Professor McCanulty, British Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University in London, did it from an aisle seat near the back of Byham.
From the 2022 Grammy-nominated “Spellbound,” Collins sweetly sang “When I Was a Colorado Girl” on her first album, which consisted entirely of original songs.
Collins downplayed an accidental fall at Pittsburgh International Airport last October that forced her to postpone the show’s original date. bottom.
Before heading to Byham this time, she made sure to revisit the exact spot where she fell.
“I said congratulations,” Collins said, adding that he was careful not to kneel.
I am impressed with the perseverance of 83-year-old Collins.
No, she didn’t sing every note on Thursday with perfect sheen. And she had some senior moments that many of us relate to now, like when she blanked out for four seconds remembering a punchline involving Rod Stewart. Pros know how to rebound quickly. If I hadn’t remembered Stewart’s name on the spot, as Collins demonstrated when he joked, I would have called everyone in the middle of the night to tell them when it finally came down to me.
Collins’ concert ended on a high note with her conducting piano and singing “Thomas Merton.” This is one of her new songs about the Catholic monk and anti-war activist whose body was found in his Thai cottage in 1968. Electric shock from the floor fan. No autopsy was performed, and Collins’ emotionally rendered singing sided with the 2018 book The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: The Investigation, which believes Merton was murdered.
Pianist Walden returned to the stage and played four notes, sending ripples of excitement through the audience. Fans took note of the intro to “Send in The Clowns,” which Collins sang with dreamy, cinematic confidence. A pre-announced ban on cameras and videos allowed the audience to listen without distraction to the Stephen Sondheim-written ballad that earned Collins “Song of the Year” honors at the 1975 Grammy Awards. I sat there fascinated by her precise take.
Collins closed with “Amazing Grace”.
Folk music royalty Collins put on a show well worth the wait.
Scott Tady is The Times’ entertainment editor and can be easily reached at email@example.com..