Gig Review: Wed 8 Jun 2011
Those who braved a freezing night to see Joan as Policewoman were richly rewarded.
There was the visual theatre of Joan Wasser looking every inch the rock goddess in black top to toe leather, her top having most glamorous flesh-bearing slits in the back. If you weren’t there, you are just going to have to imagine how perfect this outfit was within the charming old Athenaeum, replete with lighting effects that wouldn’t have gone astray in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
Then there was the musical experience, delivered by Joan on vocals, keys and guitar, Tyler Wood – playfully dubbed ‘The Human Octopus’ – on moog bass and keys, and Parker Kindred on drums. This is a trio that combines professional precision with animal looseness and a trio who clearly listen to each other. They’re fond of a maelstrom ending to a song but it never felt indulgent, just enlivening. The multi-talented Joan is fortunate to have found musicians who provide the structure of her songs with definition and colour them from a broad palette. Wood and Kindred play like demons and sing backing vocals like angels. Or as Joan said, they’re musicians of “extreme talent and badassed-ness”.
To complete the performance trifecta, Joan Wasser is either a little bit shy or knows the value of not giving too much away in banter but took pause just enough between songs to connect with the audience and respond sweetly to ribald heckling (which I do believe was all from women). While tuning her guitar, she commented on the balcony boxes, inquiring after the names of old men of The Muppets who used to sit in the balcony heckling the house band. Apart from a few conversational pauses and the occasional sipping of tea and honey, Joan Wasser and her band got on with the job of making music.
Joan as Policewoman are touring on the back of their latest album ‘The Deep Field’. It includes the single ‘The Magic’, which has an intriguing video clip and may well be testing my neighbour’s Buddhist sensibilities given the number of times I’ve played it loud. But I digress. In concert, Joan as Policewoman dispensed with it second song in, which is unsurprising given how difficult it would be to measure up to its layered production. In contrast, songs like the bass-heavy ‘Nervous’ revealed their funky charms more fulsomely when played live. I don’t know who did the lighting for the show but they also deserve kudos. The dappled lighting on Joan and the boys set the scene perfectly for the delicate and moody ‘Flash’. Other highlights: Joan, clearly enjoying herself immensely, shredding her guitar; ‘Human Condition’ – a beautiful ballad about riding the New York subway – and ‘Save Me’, dedicated to the ‘hot women of the Northcote Social Club’ who Joan encountered on her first Australian tour.
By Steph Francis