LIVE REVIEW: Joan as Police Woman @ Factory Theatre, Sydney (09/06/11)

written by Chris Familton

With each new album Joan Wasser releases she seems to be loosening the reins and allowing more of herself to emerge in her music. Live she is clearly doing the same with this show on her The Deep Field Tour surpassing her last visit to Australia a few years ago. The promoters were clearly over-ambitious with the original venue – Enmore Theatre – as not even the Factory Theatre was full. This mattered little as the crowd was large enough to make the room feel intimate and warm as Joan and band hypnotised the audience with a soul funk trip through the new record and beyond.

Wasser was resplendent in a black leather jumpsuit which made her look like a combination of Joan Jett and a character from The Mighty Boosh. Her band of Parker Kindred and Tyler Wood were rather more modestly dressed but it was really the sound that the trio created that dazzled the theatre. The set leant heavily on the latest album and improved its standing immensely. The recorded versions lack some spark and vitality at times but live they blossomed. With just keyboards, drums and vocals the band could equally retreat into hushed intimacy or muster a cyclonic musical storm. Wasser switched between keyboards and guitar showing her versatility yet never allowing the instruments to overshadow her magical voice. She got quietly sassy on the brilliant Chemmie one minute and then brazenly funky on the album single Magic. It was probably the quieter moments that captured the audience’s attention the most with Forever and a Year a particularly spine tingling moment.

Between songs Wasser displayed her New York wit and sense of humour with observations on the weather, bats and her desire to dress the Kindred and Wood in matching jumpsuits. Indeed for such serious music there was a nice balance of levity and humour throughout the evening. Joan Wasser has surrounded herself with exemplary musicians who complement her music perfectly and she has grown into an artist capable of spellbinding music. This was one of the live music highlights of the year to date.

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