Yet again St David’s Hall is delivering to a packed auditorium the shows people want to see, the excitement and anticipation for Joan Armatrading tonight flowed up from the front to the top of the hall as people found their seats and made themselves comfortable as they knew they were going to be entertained.
Before Joan we were entertained by an Electro-acoustic guitar duo Rich Lown and Robin Hirschfeld, who were back supporting Joan Armatrading in Cardiff with a mix of electric taking the lead and acoustic guitars and self-penned numbers, this was an act that entertained warmed the acoustics in the hall ready for the main act. The audience was pleased with what they heard and they certainly musically entertained
There was an eager anticipation and the low rumble of chatter as everyone waited for the house lights at St David’s Hall to dim and Joan Armatrading step on the stage and entertain Cardiff once again the performance including elements of pre-recorded material which Joan had prepared in advance and according to the statement would add colour and shape to the performance. Tonight is part of Joan’s final world tour and the first as a solo act. The stage was set and Joan stepped onto the stage to tumultuous applause. It was a happy, chatty Joan who introduced herself, joked with the audience and raised the excitement even further before a first note was struck. She told us it would be good to do a track from every album, but not tonight with that she delivered a number from 1972 City Girl, with a video backdrop of city lights, this was going to be an evening of pure unadulterated joyous entertainment. The repartee between her and the audience continued as before the third song and she sat behind her piano said you have been the best audience, I am feeling tired so More Than One Kind Of Love, will be my final number, the confidence to play with the audience was as harmonious as the music being played. She used her voice as another instrument in perfect synchronization with the piano keys and then she soared above the piano notes like the pipes of an organ being opened up.
The next track we heard the melodious 12-string guitar that was full of glorious chords and augmented her contralto voice on All The Way From America; the audience were happy it felt as if an old friend had popped round for a chat and played some of your favourite tunes to you.
Every track she played worked in the solo format and the added backing really gave the performance texture, but the reality was all that really was required was Joan’s bubbly personality, perfect stage craft combined with strong vocals and her ever underrated guitar playing that mixes rock, blues and jazz using the tempo that suits the track being played. In the solo format these skills shine and Joan met the challenge and more and the interlude of backing photo’s as a scrap-book from her life as she picked out highlights provided an insight into this talented and popular entertainer.
As we paused she picked up the guitar and delivered an array of hits from 1972 to the present day with many albums being showcased as her dexterous fingers drove the guitar to bend the sound to her command as on Kissin’ and Huggin’ with some perfect jazz and then a contrasting bluesy number Empty Highway from her Grammy nominated album Into The blues with its mix of simplicity and deep and meaningful playing and the story unfolded in a perfect video backdrop.
All too soon the show had to end Joan stayed on stage to enjoy the spontaneous rousing standing ovation and then one of the highlights of the evening Willow with a meaningful solo interpretation of this classic number.
This is the third show since Joan had to take a short break in her final world tour and there was no doubt that she was on fine form; and let’s hope we have some more solo outings to enjoy despite this being a world tour.
City Girl (Album: Whatever’s for Us 1972)
Promise Land (Album: Hearts and Flowers 1990)
More Than one kind of love (Album: Hearts and Flowers 1990)
All the way from America (Album: Me myself and I 1980)
In these times (Album: Lovers Speak 2003)
Mama Mercy (Album: Show Some Emotion 1977)
My baby’s gone (Album: Into The Blues 2007)
Tall in the saddle (Album: Joan Armatrading 1976)
Down to zero (Album: Joan Armatrading 1976)
Steppin’ out (Album: Steppin’ Out 1979)
Kissin’ and a huggin’ (Album: Show Some Emotion 1977)
The weakness in me (Album: Walk Under Ladders 1981)
Empty highway (Album Into The Blues 2007)
Woncha come on home (Album: Show Some Emotion 1977)
Love and affection (Album: Joan Armatrading 1976)
Back to the night (Album:Back to the Night 1975)
Rosie (Album: All the Way From America 2004)
Me myself and I (Album: Me myself and I 1980)
Drop the pilot (Album: The Key 1983)
Willow (Album: Show Some Emotion 1977)