Peggy Seeger The Sage 22 October 2018

For this entry, my daughter Laura has written an account of her experience of the concert.

Although I was much more familiar with the music of her brother Pete, I was very much looking forward to seeing Peggy peggy tixSeeger in concert. Her track “I’m Gonna be an Engineer” had been a favourite in our house, featuring on a family play-list we’d created for my daughter. The obvious feminist messages of this track had sparked my interest and made me intrigued to hear more of Seeger’s output. So, when Dad told us of the up-coming Sage concert, both Dale and I were keen to go. Baby-sitter secured, Dale and I headed to the Sage where we met up with Dad and his carer Jackie.

As a political activist, who has spent most of her life campaigning, Peggy Seeger’s music speaks of working-class struggle, feminism, environmentalism, peace and social injustice. Her two-part set included tracks which focused heavily on such themes and reflected her political beliefs. Particularly striking was “Reclaim the Night”, a dark folk song examining sexual violence and consent which Peggy performed a-cappella. However, although the set had many sombre moments when such tracks were performed, Peggy managed to deliver these serious messages whilst still keeping the evening warm and full of charismatic banter.

Seeger created a friendly, light-hearted and good-humoured relationship with the crowd. She joked between tracks and encouraged the audience to speak up and sing along with the songs, unifying the crowd and giving the evening a traditional folk feel at times. Indeed, the Belfast review stated, “Seeger’s greatest asset is her uncanny ability to dissolve the gap between artist and audience.” (Belfast Review, 2017)

At the age of 83, Seeger treated us to stories about her fascinating life, mentioning her late husband Ewan MacColl and her brothers Mike and Peter. There was the sense that we were seeing a living legend perform.

peggy bookSeeger “saw folk music as inherently political” referring to it as “the expressions and artistry of people who are not in power.” (Freedman, 2017) It was evident from this concert that Seeger’s performance was not just a musical expression but more-over an externalising of a set of beliefs.

Peter adds: I knew of course, on the famous love affair between Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, and how he wrote the song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” about Peggy. I also knew that sometimes Peggy performs the song, and I was hoping that she would do so. I was a little disappointed that you did not sing it this time; however, this did not detract from a wonderful concert and a lovely evening spent with friends and family.

I bought a copy of Peggy’s book, which tells the story of her fascinating life. A rare opportunity to see a legend in concert.

Set List: I’ve been Wisconsin, I’ve Been a Bad Bad Girl, Buffalo Boy, Different Therefore Equal, Reclaim the Night, Brony on the Isle of ST Helena, Ballad of Accounting, Everything Changes, Concerning the Three Young Men, The Creel, Right to Life, Careless Love, Do You Believe in Me, We Don’t Talk Any More, The Joys of Living, Song of Choice, Donald’s in the White House,

2 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for this…it would be a great category of songs for a playlist. Songs that were written for other people. Bit bored of hearing about how ‘You’re so vain’ was about Warren Beatty, or ‘Here, my dear” was for the ex-Mrs Marvin Gaye….but just focusing on the positive, how wonderful to have a song like ‘First time ever…’ written for you!

    Incidentally, in case not aware, Peggy Seeger has a new album – yes, totally new, not a compilation of old material – called First Farewell, which has only just recently been released (April or May 2021). Guy Garvey played a song from it last Sunday on BBC6 Music, the last track on the album in fact, ‘Gotta Get Home by Midnight’. Pretty good going for 85 years old!

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on May 25, 2021 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Simon many thanks. Peggy Seeger is indeed a remarkable lady and an inspiration. Glad you enjoyed my blog and thanks again to my daughter Laura for writing it. Happy days Peter

      Reply

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