From Brooklyn to Brighton, via sleet and snow, Joan as Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis came to the Haunt in Brighton to showcase their latest collaborative album, 'Let It Be You', Thankfully the weather in Brighton was a lot better than their drive down from Hebden Bridge, the venue for the previous night's gig. Here, in the screening room of a converted cinema, Joan, Ben and band took to the stage to perform album highlights as well as some of Joan's solo back catalogue.
Appearing throughout, as per the album cover, in blue jumpsuits (Think Kwik Fit ad extras vs 70's L.A car wash) Joan and Ben set about mixing the very new with the very special. The gig got off to a strong start and hardly faltered in the near ninety minute set. Opening with 'Satellite' it was clear that Joan was in good voice, her vocal at the forefront of this track and sounding especially emotive as the song de-constructed into a near A cappella end. Album highlight 'Magic Lamp', followed by its more angular title track and soulful reflection, 'Hurts So Bad', were up next; Joan, Ben and band assuredly affirming the quality of their new record.
At five songs in Joan went back a decade to revisit her first solo album, 'Real Life', with a stirring, organ heavy, version of 'Save Me'. Shortly afterwards Joan went solo again, alone on stage as she initially struggled to relieve herself of her, rather more difficult to take off than anticipated, wrist band. "Thanks for understanding my plight" she commented to the crowd, "I'm free at last". Stood at the keys, Joan first played out, 'To Be Loved', from her second record 'To Survive', and then, guitar in hand, proceeded to deliver a fabulous take on 'We Don't Own It'.
For the third act it was all hands back on stage for a set of songs that bounced between classic crowd favourites and newer cuts from 'Let It Be'. A rousing, 'Get Direct', set up the latest album's first single, 'Broke Me In Two'. Joan quipped that Ben had traded his own cloths for the jumpsuit whilst over in Africa...."and the band was made pretty much around that" before breaking into the razor sharp chords of, ' Violent Dove.'
A great guitar solo and stunning vocal made Holy City the best track of the night so far before some fantastic harmonies courtesy of the near perfect pop of, 'Overloaded'. The evening's highlight came late on via a dirtier, heavier take on. 'The Magic'. All the elements of the band were in sync and Joan's vocal was just awesome; full of soulful expression and serene melodic beauty. Joan and her cohorts came back for two well worked encores by way of the epic, 'Station' (The finale of the track almost verging into Prog-Rock over indulgence) before a calming delivery of, 'The Ride', closed out the night.
Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis put on an interesting, eclectic show in Brighton. In the intimacy of The Haunt they conjured up a delightful mix of old and new to the general delight of the crowd. The better tracks were by far and away her older, more soulful, seemingly less complicated tracks; and especially those taken from her previous two albums, 'The Classic' and 'The Deep Field'. The newer tracks from 'Let It Be You' were given a good introduction but did highlight, to some degree, how much better Joan Wasser is left to her own devices and devoid of fussiness. The sound quality and mix in The Haunt were occasionally questionable but there is no doubting the quality, expression and soul in Joan's sublime vocal, and that alone makes this a tour/gig worth seeing.
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