I only discovered Joanne Shaw Taylor earlier this year when I reviewed her latest CD and subsequently interviewed her for a UK based magazine. As someone who fell in love with Blues Rock in my teens I really liked the album and had been looking forward to seeing her perform live ever since.
The evening began with a Johnny Depp doppelgänger called Tristan McKay who interspersed his own songs with a Clapton cover and an interpretation of BB King’s The Thrill is Gone which I didn't recognise, even though he’d introduced it. In fairness McKay gave a pleasant enough performance and had one very good song – One More For The Road which developed into a rowdy sing a long; but I’d much rather see him with an acoustic guitar or probably a band instead of depending on a Loop for company.
Being the nice man I am, I had took a friend and long term Shaw Taylor fan as my guest; and he had primed me on what to expect in the bar prior to the show starting, and he went on to be 100% correct.
As John had predicted; the British Queen of the Blues was dressed head to toe in black and looked magnificent with her long blonde hair cascading over her shoulders.
With a beaming smile as an introduction Joanne burst into the opening song; Soul Station from the ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER album and, just as I’d been primed, it evolved into a 10 minute guitarfest with the young woman proving what an awe-inspiring guitarist she is.
As the singer hardly engaged with the audience all night; an audience, I might add who were listening to every nuance and note in reverential silence, I struggled to recognise any of the actual songs – although my notes do say Beautifully Broken was ‘quite sensual’ and Jealousy was a ‘slow burner’ but I also noted that I thought she’d played the full version of Nantucket Sleighride a couple of times too; but my mate insisted that wasn’t the case.
The songs came and went in almost identical fashion with 4 and 5 minute album tracks being bolstered with interminable guitar solos until they were 10 minutes or more in duration with Joanne constantly covering her strumming hand with her long hair (in Cousin It fashion) and flicking it back quite theatrically or standing head tipped backwards so her hair hung like a waterfall, as she grimaced while squeezing every last ounce of note from her guitar strings.
On record I’m impressed with Joanne Shaw Taylor’s honest and gritty Soulful voice; but tonight she fell into the trap of shouting over the incredibly loud guitar and bass; which was a shame. There is no doubt that Joanne is an incredible guitarist but she also has a great voice that could and should be emphasised more; especially live.
Another song she played which I didn’t recognise was Hendrix’s Manic Depression; but those standing around me insisted that’s what it had been. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t Nantucket Sleighride.
The set ended with a really tight version of Going Home from the WHITE SUGAR album and followed by another meandering track – World On Fire only for the band to immediately return for a funky piano led version of Lose Myself to Loving You and Keep on Keepin’ On which featured yet another long improvised guitar solo.
I’m no fuddy-duddy when it comes to music, as loud Blues Rock has been a staple in my life for forty years, but this concert could best be described as being a virtuoso performance that skirted around being self indulgent.
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