Monday, January 03, 2011

Joan Armatrading
Danforth Music Hall
Toronto ON

Fourth in a series of shows I missed posting about over the past few years while we wait for this years concert season to start up.

Joan Armatrading has been at this game a long time now. Her independent streak, including strict control over her artistic output, has probably kept her in the grey area of rock n roll instead of the spotlight of fame on an international level. She has received critical acclaim up the wazoo, Brit Awards, gold records, Grammy nods, most revolving around her cross-over successes in the late '70's and early '80's. While music industry interest has waxed and waned over the decades, that is a reflection of the fickle nature of popularity not Joans ever growing talent.

She had the unfortunate luck to be bringing singer-songwriting skills to the airwaves at the moment the kids were clamouring for incoherent scream-fests fueled by middle-class post-pubescent angst. She was positivity and creativity in a time of negativity and deconstruction. She was a black-girl playing superb jazz-fused guitar in a time we wanted skinny fucked up white guys who couldn't play at all.

Of course there's only one question: Where are those guys now?

2007 saw Joan Armatrading become the first British female artist to debut at # 1 on the Billboard Blues Charts with her Into the Blues project. (Her 2010 follow up, This Charming Life also climbed to #1 on the blues charts.) Almost 20 years after her last charted hit she is at an artistic peak. All the instruments on the record (save the drums) are played by Joan. All original songs (she has never recorded a cover song). As impressive as that is, when she is on stage her band-leading and playing skills are a wonder to behold and a pleasant surprise. While she has been perpetually labelled with those marginalizing post-it note tags; black artist, jazz infused, singer-songwriter, female artist, blues artist, she is, on stage, simply a girl who wants to front a rock n roll band.

One big let down songs from Walk Under Ladders. Can't understand that. She did go as far back as 1975 for Cool Blue Stole My Heart. Played a healthy helping of hits; Show Some Emotion, All the Way From America, Call Me Names, Me Myself I, Drop the Pilot. No complaints there. A smattering of songs from throughout the '80's and a decent insight into the new record, 6 tunes. She struck a terrific balance between representing her former self and introducing us to her new project.

Joan Armatrading
Toronto ON
Danforth Music Hall
Disc 1
01 Heaven (Am I In) (from Track Record, 1983)
02 The Devil I Know (from The Shouting Stage, 1988)
03 Joan Talks
04 A Woman In Love (from Into the Blues, 2007)
05 Show Some Emotion (from Show Some Emotion, 1977)
06 Something's Gotta Blow (from Into the Blues, 2007)
07 Play The Blues (from Into the Blues, 2007)
08 Into The Blues (from Into the Blues, 2007)
09 Tall In The Saddle (from Joan Armatrading, 1976)
10 Love And Affection (from Joan Armatrading, 1976)
11 All The Way From America (from Me Myself I, 1980)
12 My Baby's Gone ( Come Back Baby) (from Into the Blues, 2007)
13 Empty Highway (from Into the Blues, 2007)
Disc 2
14 Cool Blue Stole My Heart (from Back to The Night, 1975)
15 You Rope You Tie Me (from To the Limit, 1978)
16 (I Love It When You)Call Me Names (from The Key, 1983)
17 Me Myself I (from Me Myself I, 1980)
18 encore - audience
19 Band Intro
20 Willow (from Show Some Emotion, 1977)
21 Drop The Pilot (from The Key, 1983)

No comments: