Arriving at Belgrave at the end of a long, chilly day, catching the tail end of Fil Bo Riva sent me into blissful reverie. Creaking into one of the luxurious leather sofas at the bar, it wasn’t long until one of the members of what could only be described as a “6 Music crowd” – I’m pretty sure I was the youngest there by a long way – told me that the main event had reached the stage: Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis.
Accompanied by two bandmates, all clad in blue boiler suits, as per the album cover of their recent release, Joan Wasser was totally captivating. Her performance experience and professionalism shone through, compared to Davis who took some time to relax into the set. Keeping the pace steady to start with, the ensemble treated us to tracks from the recent album, the sixth album from Joan, yet the first collaborative effort under her solo guise, as well as older tracks. I say ensemble, because that’s exactly what the group were, swapping the limelight and instruments at every turn.
Wasser then took to the stage on a solo mission, her raw vocals carefully accompanied by either keys or strings. And her attitude was so reassuring, strumming a few chords, sussing out which octave she might play in: no desperation for perfectionism, no tearing hurry, just taking time and pride to enjoy the music she’s playing.
As the band members returned on stage, the pace then picked up with the biggest tracks all played in quick succession – ‘Broke Me in Two’, ‘The Magic’ and ‘Into the City’ to name but a few– much to the delight of the audience, Wasser trying to compose fits of laughter over jealous dancers/fangirls in the front row.
The overall show really was a treat: the perfect ebb and flow of pace, a brilliant display of talent and know-how and gorgeous music.
(Image: Live Manchester)