Review: Joanne Shaw Taylor - O2 ABC2, Glasgow

WHILE Joanne Shaw Taylor’s most obvious unique selling point is her complete inversion of the blues musician archetype – being female, young, white and British – her command of the genre thoroughly trashes any analogy with Dr Jonson’s infamous comment on women preaching (“’Tis not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all”).

Discovered aged 16 by Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, who invited her on tour with his DUP blues/hip-hop supergroup, Taylor grew up influenced equally by her father’s Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins albums, and her brother’s enthusiasm for Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin – as was readily apparent in the heavy-metal ferocity that characterised much of her material here.

Now aged 25, Shaw Taylor swiftly won wholehearted approbation from a 90 per cent male crowd, of largely somewhat grizzled vintage – and it clearly wasn’t primarily for her comely blonde looks, but the conviction and skill with which she laid into her Fender Telecaster, producing a panoply of dazzlingly fast finger-picked runs, slashing chords and bare-knuckle riffs, ranging from melodic plangency to shrieking wildness.

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Her elastically sultry, darkly feline vocals, which have seen her crowned Best Female Vocalist at the last two years’ British Blues Awards, were often somewhat lost in the mix, forcefully backed as she was by bassist Paul Lamb and drummer Layla Hall.

But slower, smouldering numbers such as the title track of her new album, Diamonds in the Dirt, together with the odd rhythmic hint of reggae and punk, lent a welcome variety to the set.

RATING: ****