Armatrading showing some emotion for the last time

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 10:12 07/08/2014

I look at the gig-diary, there's not a lot happening - only a small handful of shows to look forward to between now and the end of the year and some of those I won't be allowed to attend, but hey, ain't that always the way...anyway, as far as tour announcements go I was pretty thrilled to hear about Joan Armatrading's three New Zealand shows right before Christmas. Armatrading was here just last year - and though I wasn't the biggest fan of her most recent album - I reckon this return tour will be a must-see.Joan Armatrading

This is Joan's farewell world tour. She's said she's not retiring - not fully. She's just putting an end to schlepping around the world - she's trying to fade out with some dignity. That's (actually) better than burning out.

Also, it's a solo show - just Joan and a guitar, a piano, that voice and some incredible songs. It should be pretty special.

There's something about seeing a songwriter - naked, but for the songs (the guitar, the stage attire...) - there really aren't that many out there with the ability and the catalogue to hold your attention for two hours. That wonderful Kris Kristofferson show from earlier this year - and he was frail, a rudimentary guitar player. It didn't matter. Those songs sold the show. 

Joan + GuitarArmatrading still has her skills. I've seen her twice across the last decade. She's a great guitarist and she sounds as good as she did on those early, wonderful records. She's still showing some emotion...there's expression in her eyes...

We used to be a nation of Joan Armatrading fans, her records are always in second-hand stores, I've picked up most of her catalogue that way and so presumably there are still plenty of fans of her music here. Well, this'll be the last chance to see her live. And the best chance - her last tour was fine enough, but there were a couple of awkward moments where she got a little cruise-ship, clicking fingers and trying to be a late-in-life pop-star with a weird little song-and-dance number, the band tasteful, but a bit too tasteful if you know what I mean.

There's something that appeals, instantly, about the chance to see this great artist with just her songs, offering up so much of herself, and in hearing some of her songs in a new way, simple, sparse arrangements, a return to how they were first conceived.

My introduction to Joan Armatrading was via the compilation Trac-Man, that album is one of my all-time favourites, it still gets a spin now and then, an introduction to a lot of great pop songs. From there though it was back to the classic Armatrading material, Me Myself I was an early one for me, and then back to her eponymous album - what I thought, for the longest time was her first, but no, I've only recently picked up her debut album.

It'll be a lovely way to end the year gig-wise. If you were ever a fan I recommend you get tickets to see Joan Armatrading's solo show. And plenty of time between now and then to hit those second-hand stores and find out about all the great music she made between 1976-1985.

Are you a fan of Armatrading? Will you be hoping to get along to this show? Me Myself I

Here are the tour dates for her NZ shows, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

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