Robin Trower & Joanne Shaw Taylor

Saturday 11th  April 2015

O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London

The show starts with our blonde axe genius Joanne Shaw Taylor leading her trio through a set of self-penned songs plus an aching take on the great Frankie Miller’s ‘Jealousy’. Now with a decent set of albums under her belt and including the very grounded but passionate latest release ‘The Dirty Truth’ Joanne has plenty of material to choose from.

Whether rattling sexy funk chords from her Telecaster or screaming into the sky on a Les Paul, this artist pours her all into the numbers, the rhythm section keeping a buoyant undertow and knowing when she is off on what I tell my band is ‘an excursion’. For me the highlight is the husky tenderness of ‘Tried Tested & True’, as good as any Ann Peebles deep soul meisterwerk.

Joanne’s guitar style is fluid and bursting with ideas, touching the mighty Frank Zappa ‘Hot Rats’ era at times. She can build the tension from sparse picking to a torrent of buzzing notes and seems to be lost in the music when the intensity ratchets’s a good feeling ain’t it, sugar? The crowd take to this act, some have never seen her play live and it’s all a plus for this stellar talent.

Now in his 70th year, Robin Trower remains the electric guitar equivalent of a celebrated impressionist painter. All he is doing, as he sheepishly tells me when we meet or speak is to ’ play with soul’ ; although he uses jazzy turnarounds sometimes, he denies any knowledge of Steely Dan.

His band here has crisp and inventive drummer Chris Taggart and bassist Richard Watts who is a fine singer and pretty much a young Jimmy Dewar or Jess Roden. Hence any material from any era can be tackled and it is, with Trower himself stepping forward to sing the new album title track ‘Something’s About To Change’.

Kicking off the show with my favourite Trower track ‘Somebody’s Calling’, we are set for a great performance. This was the first ace trance rock track, for me along with Steve Miller’s moody ‘Macho City’ and to be fair some of Steve Hillage’s early work. Robin is never afraid to slowburn a cut with the tenderest of gently picked passages, taking his time getting to meatier playing, you sure need a band as good as this to make things happen with subtlety.

Of course, the regal UniVibed guitar mist-laden landscape of ‘Bridge of Sighs’ weaves its spell and with a great vocal ; ‘Day of the Eagle’ has its malevolent churn well-delivered. The sonic enchantment of ‘DayDream’ is a welcome stirring of the memory and the audience drinks in the precision and soulfulness of the guitar sketching around the melody. A rocking ‘Too Rolling Stoned’ has the feel tapping.

The only disappointment for me was the absence of ‘ Long Misty Days’ so consider that a request for the future, Mr T! This artist is a real inspiration to me, always treats me with kindness and as far as I am concerned is a national creative treasure. On this form you can book a ticket to a future show with confidence, he is the antidote to superfast slick soulless axe folk….

Words: Pete Sargeant

Visuals: John Bull


Joanne Shaw Taylor will be touring the UK in 2015 at the following venues

Friday 10th July – Uppermill Civic, Uppermill

Saturday 11th July- Citadel, St Helens

Sunday 12th July- Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire 

Saturday 25th July- Robin, Bilston

Sunday 26th July- Blues Stage, Ramblin’ Man Fair, Mote Park, Kent


Planet Rock presents Joanne Shaw Taylor plus Special Guest

Tuesday 22nd September- Phoenix, Exeter

Wednesday 23rd September- St Ives Festival, St Ives

Saturday 26th September- Copper Rooms, Coventry

Monday 28th September- Fibbers, York

Tuesday 29th September- Oran-Mor, Glasgow, Scotland

Thursday 1st October- Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Friday 2nd October- Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Saturday 3rd October- Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal

Sunday 4th October- Grand, Clitheroe

Wednesday 7th October- Gala Theatre, Durham

Thursday 8th October – Drill Hall, Lincoln

Saturday 10th October- Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-on-Sea

Monday 12th October- Artrix, Bromsgrove

Wednesday 14th October- Guildhall, Gloucester

Thursday 15th October- Cheese and Grain, Frome

Monday 19th October- The Stables, Milton Keynes

Tuesday 20th October- Waterfront, Norwich

Thursday 22nd October- Corn Exchange, Hertford

Friday 23rd October- Arlington Arts Centre, Newbury

Saturday 24th October- Talking Heads, Southampton

Monday 26th October- Jazz Cafe, London

Friday 4th December-Sunday 6th December- Planet Rockstock 2015 (Main Stage), Trecco Bay, South Wales, United Kingdom

24 Hour Box Office: 0844 478 0898 

Thanks Alan, thanks JB, thanks Peter