Joanne Shaw Taylor + Connor Selby @ The Stables, Milton Keynes – Monday 5th December

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Appearances can be deceptive, and beneath a nondescript demeanour that cuts the figure of a young Hank Marvin, lies the heart of a bluesman and Connor Selby certainly fits the bill. Having been voted “Young Artist Of The Year” for three years on the trot (2020-22) Connor is very much a rising star, and on the strength of tonight’s performance, he’s very much in the ascendency. Opening cut ‘Falling In Love’ immediately adheres him to the crowd and the sound that emanates from his guitar evidences a competent player who’s developed a unique signature style. Connor knows his way around a fretboard, but he’s a guitarist who understands that sometimes less is more and he wrings out the last drop of emotion from every note. With guitar lines that sparkle like icicles in winter sun, ‘The Deep End’ is a set highlight and signposts a bright future.

Photo: Martin Tierney

The Talents of Joanne Shaw Taylor first came to prominence when touring with Dave Stewart in 2002. and a twentieth anniversary is a good time to look around and take stock, and Joanne can be proud of her achievements since lighting up the music scene two decades ago. The buzz that surrounded Joanna then, is still present now and a tangible sense of expectation crackles the air as we await her arrival. Bathed in autumnal reds and yellows and flanked by two Christmas trees, The Stables’ stage has never looked more enticing and it makes the perfect frame for tonight’s performance. While Jack Frost is nipping at our extremities outside, inside the temperature rises as Joanne and band hit the stage and launch into an explosive ‘Stop Messing Round’. Like a well-oiled machine the band lock in tightly, with the rhythm section a series of interconnected cogs and some lovely retro organ floating atop.

 

Despite recording and touring all over the world, Joanne has never lost that earthy West Midlands humility. However, humble she may be but she looks every inch the star dressed in gold lamé jacket and faux snakeskin flares, and she sounds like one too, as sparks fly from her guitar during ‘Three Time Loser’, whilst pure soul pours from the microphone during a heart wrenching ‘Just Another Word’. Joanne was voted Best Female Vocalist at the British Blues Awards in 2010, and time has only enhanced her prowess. In that blues tradition, her voice has aged like a fine wine, and tonight it sounds as if her vocal cords have been marinated in honey, and if you close your eyes, it could quite easily be Billie Holiday standing at the mic.

Photo: Martin Tierney

Tonight’s set is weighed heavily towards Joanne’s last two albums (last years The Blues Album and latest record Nobody’s Fool) but that’s no hardship as they’re a pair of corkers and go down exceptionally well. But the hardcore fan isn’t forgotten and Joanne digs deep into her discography to unearth the likes of ‘Going Home’ and a cover of The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ ‘Two Time My Lovin’’ a track on which the band put their own stamp and make their own. Returning for two encores, the band close with an exuberant ‘Mud, Honey’ that swirls towards a frantic conclusion, and the standing ovation that Joanne and the boys receive is well-earned.

 

Joanne Shaw Taylor Set List:

 

  1. Stop Messin’ Round
  2. Keep On Lovin’ Me
  3. Nobody’s Fool
  4. If You’ve Got To Make A Fool Of Somebody
  5. Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me
  6. Two Time My Lovin’
  7. Let Me Down Easy
  8. Three Time Loser
  9. Dyin’ To Know
  10. Bad Blood
  11. Won’t Be Fooled Again
  12. Watch ‘Em Burn
  13. I’ve Been Lovin’ You Too Long
  14. Just Another Word
  15. Fade Away
  16. Runaway
  17. Bad Love
  18. Going Home
  19. Mud, Honey