As a rule I review only the performances of fellow artistes, whom I've shared a stage or a Hall with. But I'm making an exception today, because last night a couple of us Parrots saw a towering performance from a British guitar Prodigy. Someone I'm convinced will become monumental in Blues and Rock history. You really have to get out and see her whilst you can still afford to. She's Stadium-bound for sure.
I've been privileged, during my grizzled old life, to have seen and heard some fine Guitar Icons strutting their stuff. Jimmy Page, Bert Jansch, Peter Green,John Lee Hooker, Paul Kossoff, Stan Webb, Stephan Grossman and The Grounhog's front man T.S. McPhee are amongst some of those I've enjoyed most. Over the years I've also heard and seen a very broad cross-section of hugely diverse bands and artistes. Fairport Convention, Pink Floyd, Eclection, Family, Coliseum, The Edgar Broughton Band, Boney M (not by intent!!) Atomic Rooster (loud!) Champion Jack Dupree, The Sorrows, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Darts, East of Eden et al. Many types, many genres.
However, last night was a “hairs on the back of the neck” occasion,in a new venue for me-the excellent and atmospheric “Assembly” in Leamington. A big ballroom, superbly equipped for live music, with a massive stage, easily viewed from all areas and including a tiered downstairs area and balconies. With a decent,air-conditioned bar, the place was clean and excellent throughout. It reminded me of the long lost Jazz Club in Coventry's defunct Hotel Leofric. And the lovely if corny interior reminded me of The Theatre Royal in Stratford, East London. It's a venue I'll be returning to. The nearest car park is nostalgically adjacent to the site of the old Leamington Spa (Avenue) station. with cheap and easy parking. A place where, centuries ago (-ish!!) I would get off a steam train from Coventry and cross to a larger, cleaner, more glamorous General station.
A useful,competent support band-Federal Charm from Manchester-opened up. Young and ballsy, their performance was more energetic (and noisier!) than their eponymous debut album. I had a chat with their bassist-very approachable-seemed like nice boys! They tried hard and they set the tone and pace, before Joanne Shaw Taylor and her band stepped out. I've been listening to her stuff for a few years now. And have liked it very much. Remember Annie Lennox doing the televised Jubilee Concert in 2012, in front of Buckingham Palace? JST handled some of the solos in that set.
JST strapped on what looked like a well-loved Les Paul, and then proceeded to thrash it most impressively for nearly two hours. Smiling a lot of the time, but grimacing through some of the (extraordinary) solos or (heart rending) slow blues. She sings like a latter-day Janis Joplin, using a voice which has a remarkable range. There is nothing to dislike. However, if you object to thunderous amplified music which makes the floor shake, frown at guitar styles which range through funk chops, power chords, blues riffs and haunting tonal variations, avoid. Every single song (and there were many) had a solo. Some had several. Long, intense solos, ridiculous in their intensity and diversity. Not everyone's cup of tea but definitely mine.
Wikpedia says she now lives in Detroit. I know she grew up around Birmingham, and last night she told us she was based in Leamington when in the U.K. (I bet she says that to all the lads). She's 28, very attractive and awesomely talented.. There's a lot of competition in this area. A whole rush of young white females who are suddenly emerging as great Axewomen. Singer/guitarists like Chantel McGregor,Samantha Fish and Bex Marshall. Leading the way, with a style and panache the great Bonnie Raitt would applaud, is JST. Just. Simply. Tremendous.