Joanne Shaw Taylor – Review O2 Academy, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Joanne Shaw Taylor – 25th May 2011
O2 Academy, Newcastle Upon Tyne
I first heard about Joanne Shaw Taylor when a friend had seen her supporting Joe Bonamassa on a recent tour. His advice being “…make sure you see this girl!”
Joanne broke onto the blues scene when she was just 16 years old, being asked to join Dave Stewart’s supergoup D.U.P. on a European Tour. Born in the UK (in Birmingham) Joanne released her debut album White Sugar in 2009 to rave reviews and has recently released her latest album Diamonds In The Dirt.
Playing the smaller of the two rooms in Newcastle’s Academy there was close to 200 people in the nearly full room when Joanne hit the stage. Backed by Detroit musicians drummer Layla Hall and Paul Andrew Ulysees Lamb on bass (who had provided the support with some rip-roaring blues guitar of his own) Joanne picked up an extremely battered and scarred Telecaster and set off to give the audience the ride of its life.
The pace set off at a searing level and didn’t draw breath for at least thirty minutes as the band played some of the fiercest blues playing I have heard in a long time. I am sure a lot of the audience, especially the long line of men at the front of stage with cameras at the ready, were initially attracted by the fact that Joanne is a 23 year old slim blonde beauty. Too be honest I was wondering if she could reproduce live the raw sound she obtained on her albums. I needed to have no worries – this white girl CAN play the blues. Her style is very much in the SRV vein, but with her own distinctive stamp, as she started the songs left of stage before moving front and centre to coax lead riff after lead riff in front of a crowd head shaking and foot tapping along. Whiplashing her long hair back in place she would build on each solo until finally releasing some searing finger shredding blues riffs that made you wonder how she could conjure up any more.
Her voice on the albums has been compared to Janis Joplin, and there are traces of it in her singing but to my ears it is more in the style of the great Maggie Bell of Stone The Crows fame, as she has a raw, deep urgency in her singing.
Smiling throughout, with little on stage banter to get in the way of the music, Joanne and her band played material from both of her albums in a ninety (plus) minute set. She threw in a couple of great covers including a respectful, and well received, Hendrix’s Manic Depression and Freddie King’s Going Down. The latter featured a drum solo by Layla Hall that was something to be seen as she used sticks and her hands to hammer her kit into submission.
Joanne Shaw Taylor is a pretty face that does deliver the blues live as the audience (and this reviewer) went out into the night as pleased and exhausted as the artist herself.