OK so here's
the deal, you're a young rock blues guitarist playing to a surprisingly
big post bank holiday London crowd. You hit the stage with a perfunctory
wave and steam into a stomping groove with a click-clack rhythm and the
first of several brief explosive volleys of notes on a self penned song
slightly to your left, growl into the mic, throw back your mane of
blonde hair and effortlessly caress the neck of your guitar with the
panache and dexterity of a seasoned guitarist.
across the stage like a spring coil dervish, flash a smile to the
responsive audience, add another growl for good measure, and eventually
shout to the crowd 'How's everybody doin tonight?'
unsurprisingly draws a hearty response and you go about your business
with a heavy duty shuffle and for a bewildering moment your middle
aged fans are transported back in time to the dewy eyed days of the fret
board magic of the younger Johnny Winter, but with added restraint
and certainly way more cool.
So welcome to the new generation blues in the capable hands of Joanne
does she ride rough shod over the gender divide that has blighted
rock/blues for far too long, but she's got a hyphenated name and goes
about her business with a confidence that can only come from a natural
playing ability that has projected her into the mainstream rock media.
moniker may have been removed from her guitar strap but that didn't stop
her from dipping into the genre on an eloquent rendition of her own slow
blues 'Time Has Come' from her breakthrough 'White Sugar' album.
ably aided and betted by Layla Hall on drums and dreads and the
impossibly tall Paul Andrew Ulysses Lamb on bass, who earlier gave us a
blast of his own pile driving Detroit rock, most fully realised on the
closing 'The Time of My Life'.
wasted little time in shaping her set with high energy gusto, nimble
finger work and above all song craft. And in a workplace populated by
macho egos and of course the grand gesture, she's torn up the script to
play sizzling rock blues on her own terms.
And over the
course of the next 90 minutes she delivered what her disciples hoped
for: smouldering rock blues peppered with steely licks and enough light
and shade to bring to life the impressive material from the current
'Diamonds in the Dirt' CD.
Joanne Shaw Taylor aside from her contemporaries is her fearless ability
and a willingness to see where her natural exuberance takes her.
a pounding shuffle on 'Watch Em Burn', a bone crunching version of The
Hoax's 'Bones' and a hypnotic groove on 'Diamonds in the Dirt'.
was the high velocity rhythmic feel of the excellent 'Jump That Train'
and the slow burning 'Shiver and Sigh'. On the latter she bent almost
parallel with her guitar neck to extract maximum tonal resonance as she
explored a raft of jazzy notes over Layla's extravagant cymbal splashes.
confided to us that she'd played the very same stage in its previous
incarnation as the Marquee, using underhand tactics to indulge in some
subterfuge was needed tonight as she made her mark on her biggest London
show to date, impressing all with her varied use of tone, speed and a
judicious exploration of the loud/quiet divide that is all too often
abused in the name of dynamics.
problem with Joanne though, whose mix of repeated note flurries, subtle
use of sustain and ever present blistering runs made sure that her band
roared like an ocean.
finally came to rest on a crashing conclusion on a cover of Don Nix's
'Goin Down', remarkable for Layla Hall's bare handed drum solo and a
perfunctory splash of her cymbals with her lanky dreadlocks. It was an
unexpected but true rock and roll moment on a night when all other
expectations were effortlessly fulfilled.