Joan as Policewoman, Norwich Arts Centre, 15 March 2014

JasPW_classicJoan Wasser’s fourth album, The Classic, formed the core of this exceptional sell-out gig. Accompanied by her stalwart band featuring Parker Kindred on drums and Tyler Wood on keyboards and sax, she was spellbinding. I’d heard the album only once prior to the gig, but Joan justified its soul-oriented theme, something that seemed unconvincing on first listen.

Joan herself is a multi-instrumentalist. Adorned in her trademark leathers and Stella McCartney wedge shoes, she introduced us to her spangly violin augmenting her regular keyboards and guitar.

The show started with ‘What would you do’, from the new album, with its punishing drums, wailing keyboards and punctuating saxophone.  Joan never underestimates herself in her song writing. ‘Magic’ from ‘The Deep Field’ was one of only three old songs featured bearing the classic line, ‘I am divine’, which reflected her good sense of her self worth after a couple of darker albums riddled with tragedy in her personalJoan_15_3_14 life. ‘Good Together’ is in that tradition. A tale of not settling for less. the first time “it wasn’t so special” topped off with, “Don’t wanna be nostalgic…for something that never was”. Say it Joan!

That said, the new album is full of yearning. ‘Get Direct’ is a seductive invitation to a new love. “Don’t take the tangle from my past, I left that ruin long ago” she sings. “it’s elementary, if you would be mine, we could be happy…” With her intonation, one knows it is true.

There is even room for concept. ‘New year’s day’ is epic in duration, instrumentally repetitive, lyrically oblique and rambling. And compelling. ‘You won’t find me here this new year’s day’. Time for a change in life.

The encore was promised before the set was even half way through. There was never any doubt that the band would be called back to play the acapella single, The Classic (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldYODNL8GtY). It worked well.

Have I undersold the show?

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