Friday, 27 March 2015

Joan Armatrading at the Barbican

Joan Armatrading albums
I haven't written about any music gigs lately. Yesterday we were along to see the great Joan Armatrading in the intricacies of the Barbican. This was the 120th gig of Joan's current tour and the first time she's performed a tour completely solo.

An immediately recognisable singing voice and some rebuilds of well-known songs as well as a few less familiar. Joan plays a tidy lick on the guitar too, weaving acoustic, slide, jazz, blues and stinging rock into the set. She accompanied a few songs by piano and modest loop and synth for a couple of the very familiar tracks from the set.

I'd last seen Joan Armatrading at Glastonbury where she was playing a bluesy set on the Jazz stage. Here, for the Barbican, she mixed it up using a small selection of guitars (including what looked like a blue Variax) and the keyboard.

I realised just how much I'd listened to both of my vinyl copies of her early albums over the years and was treated to several tracks from them, mainly re-worked for the solo performance as well as some full-on dialled-to-eleven guitar work in other numbers.

Joan is clearly very comfortable performing and with around 40 years of touring she's met and played with many well-known folk. About half way into the set she kicked back and gave us a slide show of some of the moments along the way. Elton John, Paul McCartney, her MBE, a one-to-one with Nelson Mandela all featured as well as small stories about being photographed by Annie Leibowitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Patrick Lichfield. And to round it off - yes - a cartoon strip in the Beano.

It was a fine crowd in the full house too, warm applause when she arrived on stage, singing along when she asked, creating an encore for which she waited patiently on stage.

A great evening of entertainment from a powerful performer. And I just found the Beeb's recording of 'Love and Affection' from Glasto.

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