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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Joanne Shaw Taylor (Live Review By Paul)

Joanne Shaw Taylor, Colston Hall Bristol

This was a rescheduled gig, owing to Joanne’s illness at the time of the original date. Coming five days after the eight-date tour ended, JST was due to be home in Detroit but had stayed on to fulfil this date so much appreciation to the Black Country guitarist for not just cancelling the event. The rescheduling to a date so close to Christmas and a Saturday had the inevitable fall out though, as throughout the stalls in the Colston Hall there were pockets of empty seats. The balcony was closed and there was a real end of term feel about the gig (without the board games – which may be puzzling to younger readers but would have been fully appreciated by much of the mature audience).

The original support act for JST’s tour was Dan Patlansky but we were treated to Nashville’s own Sonia Leigh (9) who has been on tour in the UK herself for several weeks. Supported by the precocious talent of 20-year-old Katy Hurt and The Healers, Leigh pulled out the performance of the evening. Playing a range of tracks from her albums, her Nashville drawl fitted in perfectly with the low-key level of the evening and received a huge response from those who got in early. With a number of albums to her name, Leigh chose her tracks wisely, including Walking In The Moonlight and the smouldering Jack Is Back. With confidence oozing through the band she turned the microphone over to Hurt at one stage, and we got an extra treat as she has a voice which is just fabulous. A cross between Stevie Nicks and Dollie Parton, this Country lady has a fantastic career ahead of her. Leigh was gracious, humble and her who show was just superb. You can check her out supporting Broken Witt Rebels on their current tour. They play the Thekla on 7 December.

13 months ago, we’d been wowed by the sheer talent of Joanne Shaw Taylor (7) at a rammed and raucous gig in The Globe in Cardiff. I was sufficiently impressed to have written in my review, ‘Joanne Shaw Taylor is a bit special. Her latest tour, for a girl who gigs as hard as she rocks, took in The Globe, probably for the last time as she is surely destined for much larger venues in the future’.  Well, she remains a stunning talent and she and her band coped well with some prolonged technical difficulties with her wireless guitar connections, but the feel of the event was somewhat lessened by the larger, all seated venue which, whilst welcome to many in the audience served only to stifle any atmosphere. This meant that there was complete silence between songs after the applause had died down, something very unusual. The sound throughout the evening was poor, with the balance causing us to question our own hearing. Now I realise that sound is subjective and a very technical matter but when you are paying decent cash for a show in a venue of the Colston Hall’s calibre, I expect better.

At one point a member of the audience quite rightly shouted his frustration and eventually JST’s sublime guitar work began to cut through the mix. With a catalogue of blues rock to play, JST also threw in two covers to the set, which was similar to that of the previous tour. Bones, by a relatively obscure band called The Hoax and Wild Is The Wind, the Johnny Mathis song made famous by David Bowie and covered on JST’s last release Wild. A single encore of Tied And Bound and the gig was over. Relief on the stage that it was over and probably in a great number of the audience. JST is a fabulous talent, an amazing guitarist and her band are spectacularly good musicians. But get to see her where you can move, dance and sway and close your eyes whilst she envelopes you in her music, not in an uncomfortable fold up chair. That’s what the blues is all about.

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