Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey were obviously in high spirits at Proctors Friday night.
The two veteran folk performers, the remaining members of Peter, Paul and Mary, weren’t above goofing off in between songs, trading quips about their age or sharing stories from their 50-plus year careers.
At certain points things just got silly, as when Stookey put his arm around a seated Yarrow and began to throw his voice, while Yarrow’s jaw flapped exaggeratedly. Their explanation for this new segment of the performance: “Mary wouldn’t let us.”
Despite the occasional wisecrack, Yarrow and Stookey paid tribute to their departed group member, Mary Travers, in grand fashion throughout two sets before a fairly large crowd. “Her presence is still very strong — we walk out, and we feel her absence,” Yarrow said after the first number, “Weave Me the Sunshine.”
And true to his word, her absence was felt throughout old favorites such as “Hush-A-Bye,” “It’s Magic,” “Garden Song” and all the others played during the first set.
But the two men left onstage managed to present the material in a new light, inviting the audience to sing along on numerous occasions, partially helping to fill the void.
Highlights of the first set included the social protest anthem “Have You Been to Jail for Justice?” which got the audience clapping along. Yarrow at one point threw his hands up in the air, while Stookey punctuated the final lines of the choruses with a gruff growl. Their palpable enthusiasm carried through on the “Garden Song” up next, and by the time they got to Yarrow’s signature “Puff the Magic Dragon,” the whole audience was singing along to every word. Set one ended with a wistful run-through of “The Kid” and the equally moving “Day is Done.”
After a short break, Stookey and Yarrow took solo turns, playing two songs each. Stookey, not surprisingly, led off with “Wedding Song,” but his second song, “Jean Claude,” was the real stunner, with gently plucked harmonics juxtaposed with his pensive vocal performance. Yarrow fared equally well on his own with “Music Speaks Louder Than Words” and a rousing sing-along of “This Little Light of Mine.”
When Stookey rejoined Yarrow onstage, things really took off. “I know a lot of you are probably thinking, oh, it’s just not the same — and it’s not,” Stookey admitted to the crowd, before launching into “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Here, the audience, as Stookey predicted, sang Travers’ parts, as Yarrow and Stookey handled their usual harmonies.
Things only got better with “If I Had a Hammer,” and by the time Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” came up, what had once been a timid sea of voices boomed into a massive chorus of audience voices.
The set closed with Woody Guthrie’s timeless “This Land is Your Land,” with the enthusiastic crowd growing ever louder as the song climaxed.
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts