Joan As Police Woman
Wednesday, October 23
New York-based Joan Wasser – who tours and records as Joan as Police Woman recently released a career-covering “Joanthology” and in support of that she mounted a solo tour which brings her to New Zealand for the first time.
In a cabaret-styled setting she moved from piano to guitar and told stories and wowed a hushed audience with her songs of heartbreak and hope.
She’s an idiosyncratic artist and writer but the reverence was there, right from the get-go, with the crowd hanging on every word and soft trickle of piano as Joan opened with a song from her 2008 sophomore release and moved back and forth through the catalogue teasing out several highlights from her 2006 debut, and up to and including last year’s Damned Devotion.
If there was ever going to be anything close to a complaint it as that this was too much of a good thing – or perhaps that some of the songs sounded a little same-y without a backing band – but the Wellington show felt like it was mostly filled with true believers.
Toward the end of the first set she slipped in a magical cover of Blur’s Out of Time; I say magical when mostly what I mean is this is the sort of cover that rewards true music fans; a lesser known track in the context of the Blur catalogue but still from a fan-favourite album. And if you didn’t know that you just thought you were getting another Joan As Police Woman song. I like that kind of a cover. I like when that kind of a cover is seamlessly integrated into the show interpolating with a recognised song from the artist’s own catalogue. And so it was as Out of Time merged with Christobel to close out the first set.
After a 30-minute interval I feel like any patience the audience might have shown was duly rewarded. Joan returned with even better banter and maybe even a better batch of songs. The “Hits” started to come – Human Condition, The Magic, The Ride and a greasy, steamy, wonderful cover of Prince’s Kiss.
Beautifully restrained singing and playing and plenty of fan-favourites from across a nearly 15-year catalogue of recordings. There really wasn’t a way to find a fault with this – not when the artist on stage paid tribute to and sincerely thanked the sound-guy, the venue (naming the staff), the door-check and merch people (again by name), promoters, publicist, shit, even the media people that interviewed her the day prior. And we all know what fucking scumbags they can be, eh.
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