Joan Armatrading has anchored a career which spans more than 40 years on her ability to write about love with direct simplicity and clear-eyed perception, effortlessly traversing styles along with way, with a trio of albums over the last decade which have individually showcased her love of blues, jazz and rock.
Music review: Joan Armatrading, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall ***
She has also, in recent times, taken to touring entirely solo, functioning on this occasion as her own opening act. Reasoning that audiences are happy to check out support bands with whom they are entirely unacquainted, Armatrading took the opportunity to introduce her new album, Not Too Far Away, from start to finish, showcasing its ten solid rather than inspired songs from the breezy acoustic guitar strum of I Like It When We’re Together, through the bassier sound of Still Waters and resonant piano ballad No More Pain to the more declamatory and sonically intriguing Invisible (Blue Light).
She is a few-frills performer, with just enough chat to contextualise her material, but not much else gets in the way of the song. Her one indulgence was a comprehensive pedal board deployed with regularity during the second wide-ranging set of hits, album tracks and rarities, to trigger effects from plangent wah-wah to backwards guitar and pre-recorded arrangements in order to flesh out fan favourites with varying degrees of success.
Drop the Pilot’s catchy keyboard hookline sounded a touch tinny on tape but Love and Affection was more elegantly embellished to round off the show on a satisfying note. - FIONA SHEPHERD