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Joanne Shaw Taylor live at the Indigo 02 London

I first saw Joanne Shaw Taylor in a blues tent at a festival nearly a decade ago. Back then there didn’t appear to be that many women breaking through the male-dominated blues barrier, so her set was well-received and memorable because it was refreshingly different and unpredictable: She had a distinctive vocal and her guitar licks were equally gritty as she attacked her fretboard with fervour. There was a nascent rawness to her performance that suited the sweltering, beer-soaked tent.

Thankfully things have changed in the proceeding decade regarding female musicians getting more exposure. Joanna's performance has changed over the years too. This time at the Indigo her guitar work is more considered, but she still allows herself the space to let rip when the mood takes. Her smokey vocal has developed and is showcased here as she jumps from ballsy blues tracks like 'Diamonds in the Dirt' to the tender 'Fade Away' with ease. The two things that are unchanged is the fact that the floor is still soaked in beer and we are still in a giant tent.

'In the Mood' launches Joanna’s stellar set and should have done as the title suggests, yet the London crowd is still eerily reserved. New track 'Wild Love' continues the poppier trend of Joanna’s work under the production of Kevin Shirley. 

'Won't Be Fooled Again' is another departure in sound, but it's an example of Joanna taking strides to put her own spin on things and play what the damn hell she likes. This time she wanted to write an 80s-style pop song (more Bonnie Raitt's 'Nick of Time' than Millie Vanilli she jokes - at least Joanna is thankfully singing her songs!) The result is certainly a catchy and upbeat track with those 80s overtones sans deely boppers and big 80s hair (if you want 80s cheese check out the excellent video.)

This development in her style and sound also represents the freedom as an artist that she can cross genres rather than being rooted in a certain type of music. Even her older material is revisited with precision and a new gloss as she launches into 'Watch 'Em Burn' which features a blistering guitar solo that finally wakes the audience up and has them on their feet.

Her album 'Heavy Soul' will be out later this year, but we get to hear another track - the terrifically catchy 'Sweet Little Lies' before the night rounds up.

Who knows where the next chapter will take Joanne Shaw Taylor, but it's probably safe to say that regardless of whether it's blues, pop or rock she will continue to impress.

Support comes from young blues troubadour, Connor Selby (read our interview with Connor HERE). The award-winning guitarist lives and breathes blues music with a bent towards the romantic and brooding blues numbers. For a musician influenced heavily by early blues innovators, there’s something fittingly about Connor sitting alone on the stage picking his guitar. He’s quite a reflective and serious young man, but this demeanour suits the music he plays and the stories he tells.

His set closer, ‘Emily’ demonstrates his ability to rouse an audience with this uplifting number, this time performed alongside the band. He’s on the road with his band later in the year so be sure to catch him, he’s certainly worth plaudits.


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