It seems almost immoral to review an artist who has been making music longer than you’ve been alive. From acoustic, to pop, to blues and now rock, Joan Armatrading is back on the road to reaffirm why she is one of the most renowned UK singer-songwriters in the female league. Tonight she’s back with the launch of her latest release This Charming Life, an album which reads like an ode to Hendrix. Electric guitar in hand, Joan rips through her new songs, with riffs and guitar shredding that Led Zeppelin would have been proud to have composed. You’d think with 20 odd albums, an Ivor Novello award, a plethora of nominations for varying genres, an MBE and an ability to sell out gigs 38 years after the release of her debut album Whatever’s For Us that Joan could sit back, satisfied she’s made a success. Yet tonight her humbling presence and meander into the category of rock, shows that Joan still oozes endless passion for her music.
This unwavering enthusiasm is apparent in the offering of old songs. She may have been playing Show Some Emotion and The Weakness In Me for more years than she can count, yet still she diversifies each song from its original format, adding new twists to old tracks and punching them with raw emotion from start to end. Meanwhile new song This Charming Life reads like an updated version of I’m Lucky, whilst Heading Back To New York City ensures a faultless influx in her latest genre. She jokes before Best Dress On that ‘you’ll be singing by the end of this one’ and yet true as her word, within minutes the audience embrace it as an instant classic.
All it takes to solidify the performance is a rendition of Promises which opens likes Guns N’ Roses Welcome To The Jungle before transforming into the Sex Pistols God Save The Queen only with more soulful vocals. After this it’s clear Joan can command any style she turns her hand to, an acoustic jazzed up version on Love And Affection merely confirming the old as impressive, as the new. Whilst the crowd waving version of All The Way From America and the pumped up Me Myself I might have once been the stand out tracks of a gig, tonight they simply act as cement to the accolade building bricks of the new tracks. Whilst the audience lose themselves in the finale Willow it’s clear Joan hasn’t lost her ability to make music worthy of every possible award on the planet.