Thursday, December 18
For her farewell world tour Joan Armatrading was on stage as solo act, previous visits have had her leading a band. This was about Armatrading as songwriter. Sure, we still got to hear her impeccable guitar playing – and the voice that has not aged. But it was about the range of great songs she’s created. And her personality.
Midway through the set she took a break from the music to talk through a set of photographs, reminiscing about meeting Paul McCartney and Nelson Mandella, playing shows with Bob Dylan and Supertramp.
It might sound like boastful war stories, but this was about reflecting on a career. And Armatrading is a humble hero. There she was just working through these great pop song – and when she’s at her best, as on Love & Affection, Drop The Pilot, Down To Zero and Me, Myself, I she really is serving up perfect songs.
Moving between the piano and a bank of guitars she dabbled in the blues and returned to her folk routes for a solo acoustic rendition of All The Way From America and even started the evening with City Girl from her debut album Whatever’s For Us, recorded in 1972 when Armatrading co-wrote material with Pam Nestor.
For the evening’s final song she asked the audience to sing the chorus to Willow as lingering refrain. Armatrading’s piano playing faded and then she slipped away from the stage. And that was it. Forty years of touring the world – and now she’s stepped away gracefully. That’s the word she embodies through her songs and performance: ‘grace’. It was the perfect way to close off this aspect of her career. No more touring. But those songs are certainly going to last forever.
This review appeared in The Dominion Post – I’ve reposted it here on Off The Tracks due to requests from people wanting to view it online