Joanne Shaw Taylor at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Having just released her new live CD/DVD Songs from the Road, the 27-year-old British blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor is running around the globe promoting it. Discovered by ex-Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart when she was sixteen, this girl was tipped to be the next big thing of the British blues business, now becoming a fully-fledged global star.
On stage Taylor is inspired by her music idols, several and from different backgrounds: “My influences are different: I like Steve Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins and classics bluesmen like B.B. King. But I also have rock influences like Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz or Prince. For the vocals, I try to be inspired by Etta James and Dusty Springfield.”
These multivalent influences are visible by the amount of guitars Taylor uses for her solos – a Gibson Les Paul for the more bluesy solos and a super classic Fender Stratocaster for the hard-rock ones. The other musicians onstage play a Nord Stage keyboard, a Union drum and a Fender Bass Jazz with 5 strings – it may be said, a prototypical live blues arrangement.
The concert at Shepherd’s Bush Empire was as smooth as silk, with a well-mannered audience. Finally a concert without the usual zillion smart phones, but at the same time a little bit too rigid – there should be a law against chairs at music venues. The band wisely alternate between blues and ballads, all tracks popular with this crowd.
Musically speaking, this young woman is obviously a massive talent in terms of technique, as well as her bandmates on stage. These are people who have been playing and studying for many years, and this means five-minute long solos, incredibly sophisticated bass scales and a complex music score. Plus, onstage Taylor seems extremely happy, showing a true passion for what she’s doing, a huge smile on her face for the whole show.
Unfortunately, this music lacks soul – pretty strange for a blues band. Although a great passion, there is no damnation and discomfort in her music, no feeling at all; everything seems to be reduced to the mere technique. “To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation”, said Francis Bacon; tonight we can assume he was right.
Photos: Erol Birsen
Watch a live performance of Jealousy here: