Joanne Shaw Taylor at the Borderline
Joanne Shaw Taylor plays the electric guitar phenomenally. She has packed out the Borderline so that it’s physically uncomfortable to fit inside. The crowd has been drawn here by her flowing blonde locks, which she tosses from side to side in the throes of passion. Her older (predominantly male) fan base love every minute, whooping and interacting with her throughout. This one-off London gig is to promote her current album Almost Always Never and is being recorded as a new live DVD.
As she enters, illuminated by white lights, she draws us in with Soul Station: “Welcome to the rest of your life…welcome to the soul station.” Her husky voice is low and reveals twangs of the American blues influence – the whole album was recorded in Texas and her tour dates are based around North America. Yet this is a girl from Birmingham: discovered by one of the Eurythmics at the tender age of sixteen, Shaw Taylor is only in her mid-20s and already has three albums under her belt. Her fret control is impressive and she focuses with eyes closed in ecstasy and concentration. The audience maintains slight headbanging throughout, barely restraining their appreciation of the beautiful racket.
Fans greet songs from first album White Sugar with joy. Later, Shaw Taylor explains that her newer work You Should Stay and I Should Go is a fictional tale of spending the night with the “wrong person”, while her cover of Hendrix’s Manic Depression leaves you with the thrumming of the bass quivering through your whole body. Shaw Taylor’s band revel in performing as much as she does: while the singer falls into a musical trance, her bassist’s face contorts with exertion, throwing quirky winks and poking his tongue out cheekily to the audience.
The highlight of Shaw Taylor’s career was her much lauded performance at the 2012 Jubilee Concert, playing an electric guitar solo beside Annie Lennox. This was a well-deserved and fame-garnering exhibition of her guitar playing prowess. However, despite her obvious talent during this London show, it’s hard to imagine anything topping her previous success. A skilled guitarist yes, a headline act in her own right…maybe. Her guitar solos are so all consuming they detract attention from her songwriting talent: while her show sustains her title as “Queen of Blues Guitar”, it is difficult to differentiate between individual songs.
Photos: Sarah Tsang
For further information and future events visit Joanne Shaw Taylor’s website here.
Listen to You Should Stay and I Should Go here: