THE sold out signs said it all, what promised to be a very special event in Salisbury, proved to be just that.

Famed for her protest songs and civil rights activism in the 1960s, American singer/songwriter Joan Baez’s beautifully distinctive vocals remain in a class of their own, from the opener Lily of the West to her moving finale, Blowin’ in the Wind.

And while her voice may have sounded tired by the end of the near two-hour set, nobody minded, for the 68-year-old singer had reached the end of her UK tour.

Backed by a four-piece band, superb musicians in their own right and with obvious camaraderie and warmth for their star performer, there were just too many highlights from the evening to mention.

With a huge back catalogue to choose from, as well as the release of her most recent, and 24th, studio album, there was no shortage of material.

Tributes to Bob Dylan were well received and her imitation of the fellow American singer on Don’t think Twice, It’s All Right, caused a ripple of warm humour and wry smiles around the auditorium.

Multi-instrumentalist Dirk has written a beautiful song, she said. And he had. With Dirk on piano, Baez sang Just the Way You Are, and that just about sums the singer up as she commended everyone to stay Forever Young with the Bob Dylan number.

It didn’t matter that she forgot some of the words on The Band’s song, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, because by then, everyone was joining in the chorus.

Thanks for coming to Salisbury, said an audience member, a much applauded sentiment, and what a coup for the City Hall to host someone as classy as Joan Baez.

The standing ovation was spontaneous and well deserved and there was an awful lot rapport to share around.

Anne Morris