It's always nice to just reflect sometimes, take stock of your life and look back on what you've achieved and where you are. As Joan Wasser approaches her 49th birthday she has decided that now would be a timely juncture in her career to pull together highlights from the last fourteen years of solo recordings. To support the release of her three CD compilation that dropped in late May, Wasser has embarked on an extensive 'Joanthology' UK-wide tour.
At the Quarterhouse in Folkestone, Kent, Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman, took residence for the night to play through some of the stand-out tracks from her extensive back catalogue. Joan played without a support act and without a band; it was just her, a piano, a guitar and occasionally a Roland Rythmn Box. Joan As Police Woman took to the stage of the Quarterhouse in a sleeveless black jumpsuit and metallic platform boots. She settled herself in front of the near sell-out crowd and began her set with three consecutive songs at the piano.
Lit discreetly, Joan played with composure and poise, putting her all into the delivery of each song. 'To Be Lonely', a superb, spine tingling version of the achingly beautiful 'Wonderful' and 'Warning Bell' served up a breathtaking trio of songs to start the night. Joan's first song on guitar, 'Forever And a Year', was taken from her 2011 album 'The Deep Field', before her second went back to her first solo album from 2007 as she lovingly dedicated 'We Don't Own It' to her dear friend Elliott Smith.
Joan took time out to discuss the venue, the origins of its name; "I will find out", she said; and how great the town of Folkestone was, chipping in that she'd been calling it "Folk Stone" until someone corrected her. "Do you swim in the sea?" she asked. "Yeah", said one eager audience member who followed it up with, "I swam to France today for a baguette." "You lead a life of leisure, you could teach us Americans a thing or two", joked Joan before someone muttered, "We've tried."
Joan made an introduction ahead of the next track. "This is my friend, he was born in 1973, it's a Roland Rythmn Box", she explained as she set up the percussive beats. 'Flash', her third song on guitar, was the most energised and electrified of the night. Wasser spent the evening between her guitars and her piano, adding in the detail behind some of them as she went. Ahead of 'Real Life' she told us that the song was written about someone she'd fallen in love with after five minutes. As she played the piano with such delicacy and sang so soulfully she was totally immersed in her performance. Hearing her sing out "be reckless with me" took the song to a different level after hearing the explanation of a challenging relationship separated by five thousand miles and unrequited love.
The Quarterhouse crowd were treated to a night that took in nearly all aspects of Joan's work since her decision to go it alone. They in turn reciprocated by behaving impeccably; you could have heard a pin drop for most of the night as they hung on every note that was either played or sung by Joan As Police Woman. 'What A World', a single from earlier this year written in part for her retrospective, and then a sing-a-long, cha-cha-cha accompanied version of 'Human Condition' sounded great. It was Joan's penultimate song though that will potentially live longest in the memory of this night. The stripped back, soulful, agonisingly delivered 'Kiss' was jaw-droppingly good. In terms of Prince covers this was up there with Sinead's 'Nothing Compares 2 U'.
Before closing out her main set with 'The Magic' Joan invited everyone to come and meet her after the show to "ask her some awkward questions." Joan's pitch perfect high note delivery of the final track was indeed a moment of magic. She returned under enthusiastic applause to the delight of the crowd and finished on the very moving, melancholy of 'Your Song'.
Folkestone bore witness to a mesmerising performance from Joan As Police Woman in celebration of a distinguished, if under appreciated, solo career. Those lucky enough to be there heard Joan in fine voice as she captivated a very engaged audience with her soulful ballads.