Archive for June, 2019|Monthly archive page

Joan as Police Woman, Brighton, 21 June 2019

I was not going to do a review of this Joan as Police Woman gig as regular readers have probably read all they need to about our numerous audience experiences, most recently last year in Vienna. Indeed, I was not particularly excited about this “Joanthology” tour as it was billd as a solo set. Joan Wasser’s bands have, consistently, been excellent, worthy of critical review in their own right, and extraordinarily complementary to her vocals.

So convinced was I that it would be a disappointment, I did not attempt to write a set-list or get too close (the venue, a church, had unhelpful seating – we’ve never sat down at a JasPW gig before). Having said that, never before have we seen a grand piano on the set. Wasser’s keyboards are ordinarily electric/electronic and configured for standing only. So, all different. The audience was largely made up of Wasser devotees, and one get’s the impression that very quickly she felt at ease and amongst friends. I sense one needs to have that feeling when alone on stage. Indeed, she was conscious that there was part of the audience staring down on her from a balcony, prompting the comment after her first song, “I hope none of you people are piano teachers”.

So, Joanthology is Wasser’s self-curated “best of” album. A triple, with the third CD consisting of tracks taken from BBC sessions. We actually have yet to listen to these, having purchased the album a couple of weeks’ earlier. So, not much was new. Joanthology has a few new offerings. One of which is a song called “What a World”. Now having seen JasPW numerous times, this song is familiar. Though it turns out that Wasser performed this song for a few years before she decided it was largely unperformable. The absence of the song from the repertoire and its failure to appear on any of her albums did not pass by her most devoted followers who, apparently, badgered her to do something with the song. Or, as Wasser explained, to rework it into something that she could like.

Wasser was also drawn, disarmingly, to develop the story around “Real Life”. It is a love letter sent to a bloke she wanted to get to know better. The thing is, he was about 6000 miles away, so it was hardly ideal. Suffice to say, it did not quite work, but have a listen and pick out the lyrics that might have had an impact on the recipient.

Anecdotes aside, this is probably the most accomplished we have ever seen JasPW. Completely in control, at ease and beguiling the audience to a person. Whilst we did not have the best position in the church (churches have posts and generally lack raised seating or stages), it did not really matter. Wasser’s vocals just danced around her rearranged songs and curated set. She had to be on top form to pull this off. She was on top form.

December in Seville – Museo de Belles Artes

Take your passport for free entry into this wonderful example of a city gallery celebrating the work of its sons, if not artist daughters.

There is a lot of extraordinary medaeval – largely religious – art here. 

At last, something to smoke


It has been a quiet time on the cigarette advertising front. Those halcyon days of the Gauloises couple in the bath and the Pall Mall happy couples through the seasons. seem to have left us. The only narrative advertising at the moment is JPS (latest left). It’s couples again, one female, one male smoking, the other two watching them kill themselves. This time we are stuck in a queue on a dirt track of some description in Germany (check out the number plate); though there is some bunting on the side and a small roadside tent to suggest this is some festival thing. They have a cool box being used as a seat.

That is genius in comparison to West’s latest advertising. In-your-face West (right). Pretty  meaningless. “Gute Aussichten- Top Preis” Good view/outlook? This is all about price, though. 35 fags for 9 Euros. Red or silver. Made for good times, apparently.

And then there is…Down to Earth rolling tobacco. New up on billboards – though this one of an evening is obscured by a blue van. The campaign approach is not to disguise the harmful effects of tabacco; indeed, quite the opposite. They seem to be proud of their product’s contraceptive properties. Or even its carcinogenic qualities.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the following historical background to the product:

The company was founded in 1982 by Bill Drake, author of The Cultivators Handbook of Natural Tobacco, Robert Marion, Chris Webster, and Eb Wicks, a plumbing contractor who took out a loan to finance the startup. In January 2002 the company was acquired by Reynolds American and is now a wholly owned independent subsidiary of Reynolds American, which is in turn 42% owned by British American Tobacco. Japan Tobacco announced in September 2015 that it acquired the right to sell Natural American Spirit products in markets outside the United States.