Monday, 29 October 2012

JOAN ARMATRADING

Live Review

Symphony Hall Birmingham

It was an understated entrance for Joan Armatrading, who was on her home turf, walking casually on stage playing acoustic guitar and singing Down To Zero as her opener, her distinctive voice filling the Symphony Hall even before she could be seen.

Joan Armatrading
picture courtesy of  joanarmatrading.com
Unless you happen to be a dedicated fan or actually seen her in concert you are unlikely to realise what an absolutely fantastic guitarist she is, playing both acoustic and electric with consummate ease and, when called for, strumming one with the gentleness of a mother caring for a child while, alternatively, being able to hammer out rifts like a seasoned rock star.
She funked it up with another of her familiar songs Show Some Emotion which moved smoothly into Single Life. Joan then laid down her guitars and used her wonderfully deep voice over the top of the lone keyboard for another of her most popular hits All The Way From America.
The pretty-much packed hall lapped up everything the Emmy Award winner threw at them including the heavier sound of Woman In Love which had a reggae back beat as Joan showed her prowess on the Fender. Even though it’s now more than 30 years old she couldn’t really get away without playing her biggest success Love and Affection into which she instilled the same depth of sound as though it was the first time she had sung it.
Throughout the set her guitar playing through her range of blues and soul numbers was superb and, with Tall In The Saddle, she showed skills that were equal to and evocative of the great BB King and Pink Floyd.
She brought a mellower sound in the title track of her new album Starlight which seemed almost trivial and wouldn’t have been out of place in a West End musical.
Joan showed real emotion in the haunting ballad The Weakness In Me which really projected the range and depth of her corduroy voice.
It took Me, Myself, I towards the end of the concert to get the crowd on their feet and dancing in the aisles and thankfully she didn’t go through the nonsense of going off stage and being recalled for the encore.
She gave the crowd what they wanted finishing with Drop The Pilot and the last track on her new album, the ballad Summer Kisses.