429 Records [Release date 11.11.16]
Hardly the most ‘original’ of titles for Joan Armatrading’s globetrotting swansong, but befitting as, believe it or not, her ‘farewell’ tour which lasted almost two years, and saw her play 235 dates across four different continents was the first time she had gone truly ‘solo’ with just her guitars and keyboard.
And she’s in fine vocal fettle, reeling off classics like ‘All The Way From America’, ‘Love And Affection’, ‘Me Myself I’, ‘Down To Zero’, ‘Drop The Pilot’, ‘The Weakness In Me’ and ‘Willow’ across the course of a 90 minute set.
It’s an evening in the presence of an old friend and a remarkable achievement for a girl brought up from the age of seven amongst the inner city decay of Birmingham. Her worldwide success would be almost impossible to replicate in the digital age.
But, as good as her performance is, and it is very good, there are a couple of gripes. Firstly, Joan isn’t entirely ‘solo’ – on some numbers backing tapes are used, and it just seems a bit ‘weird’ when strings, harmonica and sax mysteriously emerge from the PA. Her performance simply doesn’t need them.
And secondly, as I understand it, the tour included a decent amount of banter between numbers with the audience. That appears to have been largely edited out – presumably to ‘marry’ the DVD audio and CD soundtracks. It would have made for a more engaging watch, if that had been left in.
So in what isn’t an overly visual performance, the DVD doesn’t add much to the CD soundtrack, and you might be better looking elsewhere – for example, Live At The Royal Albert Hall DVD – if you want to enjoy Joan’s company from the comfort of your favourite armchair. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
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Power Plays w/c 5 March 2018
BAD LLAMA Crooked Empire (indie)
EDENTHORN Mind Like A Mindfield (indie)
KATALINA KICKS Waterfall (indie)
THE ROCKET DOLLS None Of This Is Right (indie)
BONFIRE Crazy Over You (SPV)
THE AMORETTES Everything I Learned I Learned From Rock N Roll (SPV)
MY INDIGO Crash And Burn (MVKA)
Featured Albums w/c 5 March (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Atomic Generation (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 BURN Ice Age (Melodic Rock Records)
14:00-16:00 BETH NIELSEN CHAPMAN Hearts Of Glass (Proper Music)
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