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Music Review Forever young Felix marks half a century with radical folk

Julie Felix
Charing Cross Theatre, London

 

SINCE arriving in England in 1964, California-born Julie Felix has spent over half a century singing for peace and equality. Though at one time considered too commercial for some folk purists, her career has always gone alongside support for nuclear disarmament, feminism, ecology and opposition to US policy in Latin America and the Middle East.

 

Felix's talents and social conscience are well to the fore in this celebration of her 80th birthday at packed Charing Cross Theatre. In a concert lasting over three hours Felix and fellow artists command the attention, with first-half highlights including Hey That's No Way to Say Goodbye, a tribute to her friend Leonard Cohen and Woody Guthrie's Deportees.

 

Accompanied on mandolin by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, it ends in a rousing rendition of her song Freedom is a Woman, based on her experiences of leading a peace march across Central America in 1988.

 

After the interval, there's Violeta Parra's song Gracias a la Vida and Felix is later joined on stage by soul legend Madeline Bell in a poignant tribute to their mutual friend Dusty Springfield. But this is no mere nostalgia fest — there are songs from her new album Rock me Goddess, including Woman, a tribute to the Me Too movement.

 

There just has to be an encore and, after a rendition of Mr Tambourine Man, Felix is joined by all her guests for a heart-stopping performance of Bob Dylan's Forever Young. With her voice sounding only slightly lower than her heyday in the 1960s and with her passion and commitment still intact, there could not have been a more appropriate finale.

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