Joanne Shaw Taylor is ‘Nobody’s Fool’
JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR + JON ALLEN – WHITE ROCK THEATRE, HASTINGS 26.11.22
On a cold and wet Saturday night in Hastings, there was nowhere better to be than at the White Rock Theatre watching an immensely satisfying performance by Joanne Shaw Taylor, one of the strongest exponents of female blues rock in the UK. In what has traditionally been a strongly male dominated genre, this is an area of the music industry where British female talent is now rapidly rising to the top and creating a niche of their own. Joanne sits very clearly atop this pile of talent.
Stepping out on stage she blasted straight into ‘Stop Messin’ Around’, a cover of the Peter Green song and a tune that harks back to the traditional Chicago Blues sound, swiftly followed in the same vein by ‘I Want You To Love Me’. The band around her were tight-knit and on form, reacting to her every musical desire as she stalked the stage, her trademark blonde hair whipping around her. From this she stepped back slightly introducing the first of the new tracks of the evening and the title number from her latest album ‘Nobody’s Fool’, a piece that has an eighties driving, freewheeling soft rock feel to it.
In a stage lit with a blue wash, this was an artist who was clearly on fire and though the stage lighting and music was blue the whole atmosphere was far from it with Joanne tearing through number after number, her fingers dancing over the fretboard of her trusted fender guitar.
Easing the tone down she flowed into ‘If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody’, followed by the Albert Lee tune ‘Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me’. These slowed the set up, stepping back in time to the great days of classic blues, her voice taking the fore and showing great dexterity, her tone smoking and complementing the tunes perfectly. Staying with ‘The Blues Album’, she tore into the heart pumping rock n’ roll of the Fabulous Thunderbirds ‘Two Time My Lovin’’, before easing down once more and letting her fingers pick through ‘Let Me Down Easy’, before going up tempo with ‘Three Time Loser’, a foot stompin’ boogie mash up with honky tonk piano vying with the guitars. This was a number that let the band show their craft and worth with Joanne soloing over the main back beat, a permanent effervescent smile on her face indicating that there was a rare old good time going on on stage, a feeling that was rapidly engulfing the audience.
‘Dyin’ To Know’ from the ‘Wild’ album followed, with Joanne able to demonstrate the subtleties and soulfulness of her voice. Moving into the second half of the show she upped the tempo with ‘Bad Blood’ from her latest album with its spaghetti western intro, before ripping into her latest single ‘Won’t Be Fooled Again’ with its 80’s soft rock feel. This is a tune that she recorded with Joe Bonamassa, a name to conjure with, and an indication of the respect for her work in the blues community and an indicator of how far she has come in her career already.
Driving the point home she ripped into ‘Watch ‘Em Burn’, a hard rocker that started gently before closing in a frenzy and allowed Joanne to open up her inner guitar hero as her fingers flicked over the strings wringing every last drop of emotion out of her guitar. This was a song that enabled her to open up to full throttle as she stretched it out showing her soloing virtuosity and why she is such a force to be reckoned with.
The band and her then slowed matters up with the soulful ballad ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ which enabled them to take a slight breath as she showed the gentler, more subtle side of her playing, and wrung every drop of emotive feeling from the strings.
Changing over to an acoustic guitar, with the band stripped back to guitar and keys only, she turned the audience into emotional wrecks with a haunting, delicate and beautiful ballad, ‘Fade Away’, a song built around the idea of a letter written to her mother who had passed away nine years before.
The set was closed with two blistering rock numbers ‘Runaway’ and ‘Bad Love’ which had the audience clapping in participation and up on their feet.
After a short break she was back for a two song encore of ‘Going Home’, which the audience certainly won’t, and crowd favourite ‘Mud, Honey’.
This was a set that scored on every single count, showing Joanne Shaw Taylor at her finest, whether ripping the fretboard to pieces with energetic solo’s, to gentle soft soul ballads, and smoky bad love blues numbers. She showed the adeptness of her ability, not only as a guitarist and singer, but also as a performer who energetically worked the audience all night. Was there anything for us to learn from tonight’s showing? Well Yes, this is a black country girl who sure knows how to play the blues.
Joanna Shaw Taylor setlist:
‘Stop Messin’ Round’ (from 2021 ‘The Blues Album’ CD)
‘I Want You To Love Me’ (non-album track)
‘Nobody’s Fool’ (from 2022 ‘Nobody’s Fool’ album)
‘If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody’ (from 2021 ‘The Blues Album’ CD)
‘Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me’ (from 2021 ‘The Blues Album’ CD)
‘Two Time My Lovin’’ (from 2021 ‘The Blues Album’ CD)
‘Let Me Down Easy’ (from 2021 ‘The Blues Album’ CD)
‘Three Time Loser’ (from 2021 ‘The Blues Album’ CD)
‘Dyin’ To Know’ (from 2016 ‘Wild’ album)
‘Bad Blood’ (from 2022 ‘Nobody’s Fool’ album)
‘Won’t Be Fooled Again’ (from 2022 ‘Nobody’s Fool’ album)
‘Watch ‘Em Burn’ (from 2009 ‘White Sugar’ album)
‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ (from 2019 ‘Reckless Heart’ album)
‘Just Another Word’ (from 2009 ‘White Sugar’ album)
‘Fade Away’ (from 2022 ‘Nobody’s Fool’ album)
‘Runaway’ (from 2022 ‘Nobody’s Fool’ album)
‘Bad Love’ (from 2019 ‘Reckless Heart’ album)
‘Going Home’ (from 2009 ‘White Sugar’ album)
‘Mud, Honey’ (from 2014 ‘The Dirty Truth’ album)
Support – Jon Allen
The support slot for Joanne Shaw Taylor fell to Jonathon “Jon” Allen. Jon without the ‘h’, to avoid social media confusion, who is an English singer-songwriter. He played a short set comprised of seven solo acoustic numbers which were well received by the audience. For a support role he did well with half the audience joining him for the set and clearly enjoying what they heard.
Jon started the set with the slow blues ballad of ‘How Long’. If you shut your eyes this was a song that could have been sung by Rod Stewart, such is the raspy sound and texture of his voice. The second number, ‘Happy Now’ continued in a similar vein.
At times there was a gentle feel of Americana around the songwriting, in particular the third piece, ‘Take Me To Heart’.
‘Falling Back’ was a number that was described as starting in a minor key before stepping up to a major key. Whatever format the audience responded well to it.
The set, though short, was taken from across his solo repertoire, although first album ‘Dead Man’s Suit’ was particularly well represented.
The title song of Jon’s first album ‘Dead Mans Suit’ with its gritty lyric and vocal cut a Dylanesque feel to proceedings before the set closed out with the song ‘Can’t Stop Now’ which was introduced as a number usually played on piano, but for the benefit of tonight it had been adapted for a single acoustic guitar.
Jon is clearly a songwriter’s songsmith, whose writing clearly demonstrates a thoughtful and emotive lyrical ability. He has the ability to write well and difficult as it can be performing as a solo artist with no backing he clearly has the ability to win over a new audience.
Jon Allen setlist:
Take Me To Heart’
‘No One Gets Out Of Here Alive’
‘Lucky I Guess’
‘Dead Man’s Suit’
‘Can’t Stop Now’
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