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Monday 28 November 2022

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

Joanne Shaw Taylor – Tramshed, Cardiff 22.11.22

Following a bit of a nightmare journey to get to Cardiff in time for the opening act, I entered the Tramshed just as Jon Allen plays what turned out to be the final notes of his set. My apologies to him for not getting there on time to catch him in action, hopefully next time I’ll be better organised/luckier.

So I had arrived cold, wet and a bit pissed off (with myself), which should have set my mood perfectly for an evening of depressing blues music to help me feel sorry for myself. Well, apparently Joanne Shaw Taylor (10) didn’t get the memo, because instead what followed was nearly two hours of high quality, uplifting and dare I say it, happy modern blues, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms. In fact, happy is probably the best way to describe Ms. Taylor, as I have rarely seen someone look more pleased to be onstage and playing to an audience.

I must admit to not being very familiar with JST’s material prior to the gig, having only listened to the new album a couple of times and watching a few live videos on YouTube, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the music tremendously, with the sound being top-notch all night – loud but clear enough for me to make out what was being played without being familiar with it ahead of time. What I did note was that JST’s vocals are good enough for her to be a standalone singer with a voice that is perfect for this kind of music, soulful and heartfelt, which reminded me almost of Janis Joplin at times, she really is that good. Add in the fact that she is also an excellent guitarist and the two combine to make one very talented individual.

Credit must also go to the superb backing band, each member of which played their part brilliantly to help lift the songs and added an extra piece to the overall sound which wouldn’t have been the same without their efforts. The backing vocals in particular, were very well done – understated yet adding exactly what was needed to complement the main vocals.

It must also be said that JST an absolute natural onstage, relaxed, totally at home and allowing her personality to shine through with stories and banter between songs that never outstayed their welcome or got boring. One example being that apparently her manager keeps telling her to mention the merch on sale with threats of withholding a trip to Harry Potter World if she forgets again!

But it’s the music that people are there for first and foremost and it must be said that it was excellent throughout, with no one song really standing apart from any other as it was all so good, although Watch ‘Em Burn featuring an extended solo towards the end that may have been my favourite, along with quite a few our people’s judging by the standing ovation that happened afterwards.

Following this gig, I now count myself firmly among the fans of Joanne Shaw Taylor and have bought a couple of CDs already. I must admit to also checking the tour poster to see if there were any other gigs close enough to get to. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until next time but if you get the chance and are in two minds, then definitely go – you won’t regret it.

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