“I wonder which of the many Joans we are going to see,” said one fan as the audience streamed into the Mann Auditorium last Saturday night to hear Joan Armatrading in concert. The versatile musician has enjoyed a career that spans 38 years, and in that time has experimented with different musical styles, from pop to blues and rock. The woman in the black suit who came onto the stage was the Joan everyone was waiting for – singing out “Show Some Emotion” in her strong, full voice.
She went straight into “Something’s Gotta Blow” from her CD “Into the Blues” (2007), before saying hello to the audience – who let her know: “We love you!” Capable of unleashing a storm of powerful emotion when she sings, when she spoke to the audience Armatrading revealed a surprisingly “proper” demeanor and charm, marked by that slant British humor. Having recently released a new CD – “This Charming Life”, she said, “The show will consist of songs…some you have never heard before in your life, but they will instantly become your favorites. You’ll say “Love and Affection” used to be my favorite…” Interrupted by a burst of applause, she continued, “Thank you so much, I’m so pleased you agree with me.”
When the next number, “All the Way From America” (1980) received an enthusiastic response from the audience, she wanted to get everyone moving – but couldn’t make it happen. Not one to be derailed by circumstance, at the song’s end, she said, “It was too soon, wasn’t it? It was definitely too soon because it was a mess!” Songs from her new CD were well received, but after “Love and Affection” – with a terrific sax solo interlude – drew so much love from the audience, she was happy to acknowledge, “So that’s still your favorite, then?”
From the anthem-like “Me, Myself, I” (1980) to the heartbreaking “The Weakness in Me” (1999) Joan sang from the heart to a hall full of loyal and appreciative fans who sang a harmonious a cappella on the chorus of “Willow” (1977) but really rocked out with Joan on the closing number “Drop the Pilot” (1983): I’m the one you need, I’m the one you need…