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Singin' the blues in the heart of the city
'Welcome home,' was the shout from the near-sold out audience as Joanne Shaw Taylor took to the Birmingham Town Hall stage. 'It's great to be here,' replied the blonde guitarist who hails from nearby Solihull.
Hometown welcome: Joanne Shaw Taylor on stage at Birmingham Town Hall (pic: 255 Photography)
She later admitted she never thought she'd be performing at the venue when she began playing blues guitar at the age of 13, adding that she only took up the instrument because there was nothing else to do in Solihull 'until they built Touchwood shopping centre!'
Now in her late 20s, the girl sure can play. With her third studio album, The Dirty Truth, to promote we were treated to a handful of new tracks, including opener Mud, Honey and Wrecking Ball which, she says, was inspired by Bruce Springsteen's song of the same name, rather than Miley Cyrus'.
Red hot: Joanne Shaw Taylor at Birmingham Town Hall (pic: Mark Lloyd)
It was her back catalogue which was red hot, however. Watch 'em Burn from debut album, White Sugar, featured a scorchin' guitar solo, while Tried, Tested & True, from second long player, Diamonds in the Dirt, proved to be a slow burning blues workout. That album's title track, with its choppy guitar riffs and Joanne's trademark husky vocals, was also a winner.
All of this built up nicely to the set's highlight, an appearance by support act Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake fame. He duetted with Joanne on Whitesnake's Walking in the Shadow of the Blues, then the two of them pretty much blew off the Town Hall roof with Let it Burn, featuring a mind-blowing guitar duel. Afterwards Joanne announced: 'It was as much fun as it looked'.
Duelling guitars: Joanne Shaw Taylor and Bernie Marsden at Birmingham Town Hall (pic: Jeff Land)
She also revealed she'll be back at Birmingham Town Hall on December 16 to guest with the BBC Big Band at their Swinging Christmas Show.
Bernie Marsden has a new album to promote and during his 40 minute support slot we were introduced to four tracks from Shine.
Ably assisted by fellow guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick, the 63-year-old is an amiable entertainer. He tells how in his younger days he tried to look like his hero Rory Gallagher, who he saw in concert at Birmingham Town Hall when he was 19, and was thrilled, years later, when Rory told him someone had once mistaken him for Bernie Marsden.
Older and wider: Ex-Whitesnake guitarist Berne Marsden at Birmingham Town Hall (pic: Jeff Land)
He may now be 'older and wider' (his words), and look more like comedian Eddie Large, but he can still make his guitar sing, especially on vintage Whitesnake material. The likes of Till The Day I Die, Ain't Gonna Cry No More and Here I Go Again brought back many good memories of the 'Snake in their prime.
Joanne Shaw Taylor setlist:
Mud, Honey; Just Another Word; Watch 'em Burn; Jealousy; Jump That Train;
Diamonds in the Dirt;
Tried, Tested & True;
Walking in the Shadow of the Blues (with Bernie Marsden); Let It Burn (with Bernie Marsden); Tied & Bound;
The Dirty Truth.
Bernie Marsden setlist:
Till the Day I Die;
Who Do We Think We Are?;
Ain't No Love In The Heart of the City;
Ain't Gonna Cry No More;
Here I Go Again.
Joanne Shaw Taylor's remaining UK tour dates with Bernie Marsden:
Nov 18: Cardiff The Globe;
Nov 19: London O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire;
Nov 20: Bury St Edmunds The Apex.