Joanne Shaw Taylor @ Oran Mor, Glasgow

29th September 2015
Review and photography Ritchie Birnie

I remember support bands when they used to be 10 a penny and to be honest I did enjoy a bit of ribbing and verbal abuse when some talentless band tried to ruin your evening. My, how things have changed!

So we come to tonight’s sole support band, Federal Charm. These guys have not been sitting on their hands, they have been in this fair city four times previously touring with the likes of Ian Hunter and The Black Crows.

 Tonight was my first chance to catch them live and I have to say they were outstanding. Their mix of blues and rock were perfect for this tour. The amount of upcoming British 70s tinged blues rock bands is really pleasing to see, and going just on the show Federal Charm put on tonight they deserve their place with the likes of Crobot, The Temperance Movement, The Answer, Blackberry smoke and one of my favourites, King King.

The above names are probably known to most and are definitely going to take this genre to the top, but Federal Charm just put down a strong marker for a space in both my heart and soul and going by the reaction and CD sales tonight, I am not the only one. Their short seven song set covered a lot of ground from pure rock to complete blues with the likes of “Reconsider” but the thing that carried through most strongly was the sheer talent of the band and the soulful tones of Nick Bowden’s voice. This is one upcoming band not to be missed and I can assure you right now that you WILL be hearing more of them.

Now for the reason we were all there, the lights dimmed, the PA kicked to life with the Stones’s “Gimme Shelter” and we knew the woman that is Joanne Shaw Taylor was but a few feet away, hiding behind a curtain. Mick stopped singing and out walked the blonde haired blues queen herself, decked in black and ready to blow us all away with her unbelievable talent on the guitar and her sultry and soul laden voice. Let’s face it people she is beautiful, she can play a guitar as if the gods had picked her specifically and given her a voice of a siren that would woo anyone away from the course they were on. You can get lost in that voice, that little slice of heaven here on earth. As if that is not enough she has another talent that may go unmissed by many, but I am sure she has worked just as hard at…the art of not pulling stupid guitar faces. We may have seen the odd tongue waggling in time to her licks but you will not find any crazy contortion or grimace take over this ladies face.

As the opening bars of “Mud, Honey” kicked in we were taken on a near two hour journey of ecstasy. The crowd may have been of the older generation but for this show we forget all our aches and pains, our grumbles and our need to shake our fists at “ those pesky teenagers”. Blues is not my preferred genre of music, I lean more towards the rockier and heavier end of the spectrum but I do love it.
Joanne placed a spell on me tonight, I lost track of time, I hung on every word and every note. I could sit here writing for hours and still not convey the emotions felt, the sheer joy or be able to replicate in any form how we were enchanted by this goddess. I can see where the moniker of “Devil’s Music” came from as all free will gladly left my body as the songs melded into each other and the stories twisted and turned.
Joanne introduced us to the first relationship based song tonight and you can tell this still has some emotions involved. I always wondered what it would be like to have to deal with something like this night after night, does it harden your resolve or just keep dredging up the hurt? I think I found the answer when Joanne was away from the mike and lost in the guitar, you could see and hear the pain coming from the guitar and written all over her face. As painful as it is this is the backbone of good blues so sorry Joanne, blues is not meant to be a happy place to write songs from.

We also get treated to a couple of acoustic numbers which didn’t go without a hitch. Joanne had some issues with tuning which her father got the blame for, but it also gave us some time to get some nice nuggets of information, like the fact that her grandfather was Scottish (this is where the Shaw comes from) and that she likes to inadvertently swear whilst trying to get that sweet spot whilst tuning. This had no negative effect on the crowd as I suspect she could have gotten away with murder on that stage tonight and we would just have patted her on the back and tidied up the mess.

As the songs passed by and I took in the sheer class of numbers like “Diamonds in the Dirt”, “Time has Come” or “Tied and Bound” it shows you just how right Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame was when he picked up on her demo tape and pushed her. He must sit back and smile at her journey and the rounded professional she is now.
An unusual turn for the encore was the title track off of her new album “The Dirty Truth”. She informed us that this is a fictional story of killing her ex, but we were not so sure, the size of the smile on her face showed the cogs in that mind ticking away and I don’t think I would want to get on the wrong side of this lady, you may not win the battle.

Tonight I witnessed an outstanding show and Joanne has been slotted into my memory bank under, ” Blues Geniuses I Have Seen Live”. I lay down a challenge to anyone out there to go to and see this woman live and not admire her art and totally enjoy yourself. I felt as if the show passed in a moment yet during the solos I was held as if in an eternity so to top it all this woman can bend time…I give up, towel thrown in and complete subservience given over.
Set list
Mud, Honey
Wrecking Ball
Tried, Tested and True
Jump That Train
Diamonds in the Dirt
Almost Always Never
Watch ‘Em Burn
Time Has Come
Tied and Bound
Going Home
The Dirty Truth