Live Review: Joanne Shaw Taylor / Connor Selby – The Fire Station, Sunderland 21.02.2024

Craig Young

A remarkable venue played host to a remarkable guitar player tonight as Joanne Shaw Taylor brought her blues rocking band to The Fire Station in Sunderland. Connor Selby provided support with his electrified acoustic blues.

It takes guts to take a stage with just a guitar in between you and the audience, most of which hadn’t turned up to witness, but Connor Selby does it with a quiet strength. Confident that his music will do the talking and the faith Taylor has placed in him to open her UK tour. Selby lit the place up with his powerful vocals and once he got going he had the audience flowing along with him nicely enough for there to be shouts of more as he ended his set.

Highlight was his track ‘Love Letter To The Blues’ which encapsulated his chord heavy traditional blues sound. Closing his set he gave us a taste of what he good do as he treated the audience to some tasty bluesy licks. tonight was just a glimpse as to what this man can do and tonight he was a full band away from being fantastic. A well chosen opener for Taylor to bring her electrical blues to the stage.

Taylor as usual took the stage to a round of cheers and ripped straight into the barnstormer and Reckless Heart opener ‘In The Mood’. Her set tonight covered her full catalogue with a strong ballad from her blues album, ‘Keep On Lovin’ Me’ with its seductive vocals, her favourite she commented, and a surprise outing of an early Taylor track ‘Diamonds In The Dirt’, title track from her second album. A shout for ‘Jealousy’ was denied with Taylor admitting she doesn’t have the vocal chords anymore for that track.

Playing pretty much her Telecaster the Les Paul, which was a stable of a younger Taylor, came out for a contemporary blues shuffle and personal favourite ‘Dyin’ To Know’ which saw an extended outro/ band jam with some sweet guitar noodling. Taylor is one of those guitarists who understands the power of a guitar solo, making it a song within a song and smoking that fretboard on more than one occasion.

Becoming a standard in her sets was the beautiful love letter written from the perspective of her deceased mom ‘Fade Away’ is a little spot of beauty led by acoustic with some gorgeous tinkling from keyboardist Phil Whitfield and tear inducing solo from second guitarist Shane Sanders. Perhaps one of my favourite tracks from tonight especially as the band kept the raw emotion that was captured in the studio version.

Shane Sanders is a perfect second guitarist taking on some lead work in particular the stinging solo to her 80s sounding track ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ which had the room zinging. Something that set closer to ‘Bad Love’ continued and finally finished off when the band returned to the stage for the encore where they performed ‘Going Home’.

Tonight proved once again what talent Joanne Shaw Taylor is, be it songwriting, singing or guitar playing she puts on one hell of a showdown to the strength of her material alone. New songs ‘Sweet Little Lies’ and ‘Wild Love’ were met with rapturous applause demonstrating that she will always be an artist that guarantees a brilliant night.

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