This review by Doug MacCash appeared in The Times-Picayune.
If you were at the Joan Armatrading concert at the Civic Theater Monday night (April 27) in New Orleans, please add your recollections to mine. Post your thoughts, plus details I missed in the comment stream below and I’ll try to weave them into the story. Here’s my take on the show:
The Caribbean-born songwriter was having an epic bad day. At 2 a.m. a false fire alarm in her Baton Rouge hotel caused a short evacuation, then at 7 a.m. a raging storm robbed the hotel of electricity, prompting another evacuation of the upper floors, then at roughly 9:30 p.m., near the start of her act in the Civic Theatre in New Orleans, gremlins caused her electric keyboard and guitars to go silent for several long minutes.
Eyes shaded by her long bangs, she stood at center stage, bemusedly explaining all that had befallen her, until finally sound was restored.
New Orleans, she said, was the 136th stop on her tour. Which is why, she coyly explained, she only planned to play three songs before getting some rest. To hoots of laughter from the adoring audience, the 64-year-old embarked on a 90-minute set that included blues, pop and rock compositions from her four-decade career.
Her voice had a comforting saxophone depth and her manor was slow and deliberate. At least until she strapped on her Epiphone or Fender guitars, then she was suddenly as stormy as the weather outside, strumming and riffing with controlled violence.
Armatrading explained that it was the first time she’d toured without a band. On a few songs, her live solo guitar was supplemented with pre-recorded rhythm tracks. She wore a simple black blouse and pants.
Midway through the show, she paused the music to share a few photographs from years gone by, which were projected on screen behind the stage. The selection included striking portraits of a young Armatrading by Annie Leibovitz and Robert Mapplethorpe, plus snap shots songwriter with celebrities from Elton John to Paul McCartney to Tina Turner. The photo taken of Armatrading with Nelson Mandela brought a cascade of cheers from the crowd. Her recollections were charming in their understatedness.
Then, as she said, it was time to get back to music.
She delivered “All the Way From America” as a harshly haunting chant. Despite her rather contented general demeanor, she spat out “Me, Myself, I” with with a sharp-toothed punk edge.
Armatrading eschewed a conventional encore, wryly informing the audience she preferred to just stay behind on stage during the applauds — which were loud and long Monday night. Then, as devotees sang along, she soulfully delivered “Willow” at the keyboard, waved and walked into the wings.
Before the show, a projected text declared that this was Armatrading’s last concert tour, but she didn’t mention it during the show. The projected notice also prohibited photographs.
For the original report go to http://www.nola.com/music/index.ssf/2015/04/joan_armatrading_civic_theater.html