Stacking the Deck
When an audience offers up a standing ovation just for an artist walking onstage, the night is surely going to be a good one, right? Well… yes and no. Stopping in Nashville on her first-ever solo tour and last-ever world tour, legendary singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading was humbled by the greeting she received from the City Winery crowd and kicked off her set with “City Girl.” Two songs later, she shifted to the keyboard and said that, after playing 134 dates, “I’m actually quite tired. I hope you won’t mind if I cut the show short. This is actually the last song. You’ve been a great audience… best of the tour.” Though folks groused and grumbled, Armatrading was joking, of course. She does that.
With personally curated film footage backing her, Armatrading worked through her catalog, offering both new and old tunes to a sold-out crowd that included a handful of diehard fans who cheered at every note. Most in the room, though, seemed to only come alive for stunning classics like “Down to Zero,” “The Weakness in Me,” “Love and Affection,” “Drop the Pilot,” and “Me Myself I,” which all got stacked at the end of the set, and, of course, “Willow,” which served as the show’s encore.
In between, the room’s energy flagged a bit more than usual, but witnessing history seemed to make it all worthwhile.