Words and Photos by Reese Cann
Joanne Shaw Taylor wrapped her 2023 US Tour in Atlanta, but there was no show of wear for this rocking blues ace or her four piece backing band. The set started on the rocking side, launching the show with “In the Mood,” “Keep on Loving Me,” and “Nobody’s Fool” from her 2022 album of the same name. These were a good intro of what was to follow, a rocker, a blues song, and a more contemporary pop song that might have fit on ’80’s radio.
For someone gifted at “blues guitar,” the blend of songs is an interesting approach that can draw fans from different places. “Bad Blood,” “Won’t Be Fooled Again,” “Wild Love” (a new single) and “Dyin’ to Know” (with a killer fingering melody) echo a softer approach or… maybe a desire for a hit song? Or just where her muse is taking her?
Taylor is very conversational during her shows, in a good way. Dropping names like Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are expected (if not encouraged), and she also dips into the process of creating music videos and cautioning the audience not to embrace a Fabulous Thunderbirds lyric, “I can’t let you go, it’s plain as day to see, I’m gonna have to let you two time me,” which she then slayed (“Two Time My Lovin'”).
She also touched on the pressure of writing songs for albums and confessed that she doesn’t consider herself a good blues song writer. On songwriting, she later admitted “the second glass of wine is when the magic really happens.” Well, sounds like the blues to me.
Still, it’s the guitar that got the crowd on their feet. A rollicking “Watch ‘Em Burn” followed by the extended slow burner “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” hit the audience right where they wanted it – power, emotion and tasty guitar chops.
The band was excellent, though never drawing attention to themselves until a humorous finale where they wore lumberjack hats, apparently a well-received inside joke. The audience perhaps was not ideal. Though appreciative and enthusiastic, breaks between songs at times caught the silence of a listening room and caught Taylor by surprise. No worries, she’s great at filling the void. I won’t disagree with one vocal fan who urgently requested “Summertime.” Her version is that good, and it’s a shame she didn’t feature it on this tour.
The opener, Robert Jon and the Wreck, were also excellent, bringing energy and a fair amount of their own fans. “Oh Miss Caroline” was a sweet breeze, while “Cold Night” was a confident 13-minute guitar burner that at times echoed the Allmans dueling guitars and captured the energy demanded of southern rock.