Rychard Carrington and Nancy Hogg report on Joan Armatrading – Cambridge Corn Exchange, 19 Mar 2007

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
Nancy: So, what do you reckon then, Rychard?

Rychard: Oh, I'll have another pint of Abbot, cheers, Nance. And, perhaps, another packet of Branston pickle flavoured crisps?

N: No, about the concert.

R: Oh, yes, the concert. What about it?

N: Well, are you, for instance, of the view that, although one should not expect any tour by an artist as established as Joan Armatrading to be merely an evening of hits, to use the evening simply to showcase an unreleased album hints at a slight disregard for the fans? Might you be inclined to the verdict that the show was great - it did what it said on the tin - but that at no point did it become more than the sum of its parts?

R: Yes, pretty much.

N: Did you formulate the opinion that the songs from the as-yet-to-be-released new album Into the Blues (which evidently is indeed heavily blues-orientated) were performed seamlessly and hinted at a remarkable blues album? That, however, it was not until a blistering version of Love and Affection that one remembered why one loves Joan Armatrading? That her voice is still effortlessly magnificent and her stage presence arresting?

R: You took the words right out of my mouth. (Alongside a couple of Branston pickle flavoured flavoured crisps.)

N: Let us conclude, therefore, that, given that it was clear that Joan finds onstage banter easy, it was a wee shame but that we were treated to so little of it. Instead we had a big blues sound which, although it never overtook her vocals, sometimes matched them less well than would have acoustic guitar. Nevertheless, as an encore we got Drop the Pilot, which sounded as fresh as ever, and was the only number that got Steve and Jennifer in Row M out of their seats and bopping away like it was their wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful moment that made you realise the timelessness of a truly great pop song.

R: In short, the concert was quite good, with the emphasis on the quite.

N: Quite.

R: About those crisps...

Writers: Rychard Carrington and Nancy Hogg