Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Joan Armatrading at 4th & B in San Diego

This was my first time visiting 4th & B, which is run by the House of Blues. So, lets just get this out of the way first. Any band, Velvet Revolver or louder, will do just fine here. But anyone softer, even with electric guitars, is going up against a concrete box with not an acoustic tile in site. Joan's sound crew did a fantastic job of mixing the sound, but it sure isn't the place you want to see someone special like Joan Armatrading.

You can't really talk about this show without talking about the new CD, "Into the Blues". The CD, which is Joan's take on the blues, is her best in 20 years. And this new music blends so nicely with her 70's folk/jazz era. With a solid backing band (drums, bass and keyboards), the 70's songs really rocked and the new tunes sounded even better than on the CD. Joan's guitar playing at times reminded me B.B. King as she whipped off clean well conceived solo after solo. This concert was a reminder of just how much I enjoy watching Joan play guitar.

Joan saved most of the 80's hits for the end, and that worked well since they are so full of energy but don't really segue well with the new songs. As always the audience explodes when Joan walks on stage and always gives several standing ovations (yes, there were seats!) during the evening.

I ended up having a slightly funny situation with Joan. I am friends with her assistant, Jenn. Maria and I were walking around well before the show and and saw Joan, but didn't say anything; just smiled at her. Later, right after the sound check, we were at the backstage door and Joan came out. As she walked by I said, "Hi Joan". It is well known that Joan likes her privacy and I wasn't going to try and start up a conversation so I just said, "Is Jenn around"? That stopped Joan in her tracks. "Jennifer?" she asked. I said yes and she said, "Do you know her?". I think she was really surprised to have someone asking for one of her crew members. Anyway, I said yes and a minute later Jenn came out of the bus and we caught up on each other's lives. But I'll always remember the surprise on Joan's face. It was pretty funny.

Always remember, be polite to the techs on stage. Which is why I am able to give you the song list for the show. :-)

The Devil I Know
A Woman In Love
Show Some Emotion
Somethin's Gonna Blow
Play the Blues
Into the Blues
Tall in the Saddle
All The Way From America
My Baby's Gone
Empty Highway
Cool Blue
You Rope You Tie Me
Call Me Names
Me Myself I
Drop the Pilot

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen