Monday, August 9, 2010

Joan's Still Got It

I was thrilled when I saw that Joan Armatrading would be performing at the Egg in Albany, NY. I hadn’t thought about her music in years, but she was always a favorite in my early music choices and influences as a singer and songwriter.

She jumped right in with a romping rendition of “Show Some Emotion,” and the night was off to great start.

The Kitty Carlisle Hart Theater at the Egg is an intimate theater that seats 982, and it was about two thirds full. The sound is fantastic for a small electrified combo like her with bass, drums and keyboards. Even her acoustic 12-string and Ovation 6 string guitars rang out crisply. Her vocal mix was just right, always dominant over the instrumentation, her distinctive alto layered harmonically over the rest.

I never realized how percussive her phrasing style is, and her lyrics are very conversational. The opening glissandos across the neck of her big 12-string heralding “Love and Affection” had people up out of their seats. I didn’t want it to end, and she received a standing ovation in the middle of her set for this song.

Spritely and full of fun, she seemed to skip across the stage as she joked in a lilting British accent. It put me in mind of the lyrics to her song, “Join the Boys:"

We’ll be dancing in the floodlights
Second to none
Not even on a bad night

Nearing 60, her new music reflects a life well-lived and the same acceptance of where we are that most of us baby-boomers have journeyed to: an appreciation of life, serenity, relationships.

Songs from (and including title cut) “This Charming Life,” her newest release, were sprinkled throughout several gems from her nearly four decade career. She represented her several albums and musical directions well, and chose fan-favorite “Willow” as her encore.

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