Union Chapel 28 May 2015
Tom Paxton - '50 Years On' UK Tour 2015 - with special guest Robin Bullock
Tom Paxton is a cornerstone of the modern American folk tradition. Long before Bob Dylan appeared on the scene, Tom Paxton was singing songs and telling stories in Greenwich Village. His work is just as relevant today as it was 50 years ago during his first UK tour.
Tonight in London's iconic Union Chapel Tom takes to the stage where many who have been influenced by him have stood and played before. This tour is particularly poignant, not only because it marks his Golden Anniversary but also it's his last UK tour. For an Anglophile who has lived and spent a great deal of time here over the years this must be a particularly difficult farewell.
Despite the sombreness of the occasion on both sides, Tom makes sure that he gives a terrific performance and certainly one to remember. He is at ease with the audience telling stories and making jokes, a natural raconteur.
The set was comprised of classic songs such as Ramblin' Boy and the folk staple, The Last Thing On My Mind celebrating a glorious 50 year career. New material from Redemption Road including the enchantingly romantic Ireland and Susie Most Of All stand alongside the back catalogue with ease. Tributes were also paid to his best man and friend Dave Van Ronk with the new song The Mayor Of MacDougal Street and his late wife Midge with her engagement present, My Lady's A Wild Flying Dove. Let's not forget Tom's homage to a regular at the The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich, the legendary forefather Mississippi John Hurt, (Did You Hear John Hurt?) His performance is full of humility and sincerity throughout the evening, no matter what he is singing about. He is possibly one of the most genuine people you are ever likely to see grace a stage.
Tom's songs are at times painfully heartfelt like Time To Spare and The Bravest, dedicated to the firefighters in 911. At other times they are witty and humorous, A Battle Of The Sexes, A Bottle Of Wine - but they are always inspired by something that moves him. This is art and songwriting in its purist form.
Sharing the stage with Tom was Robin Bullock, another talented musician who enthrals us with his instrumental version of Tom's favourite song, Shenandoah at the beginning for the second half. The juxtaposition of this traditional American folk song alongside a master of modern American folk does not go unnoticed. Even if this will sadly be his swan song in the UK, the impact Tom Paxton has had on music will remain.