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Joanne Shaw Taylor/Jon Allen  -

The Apex,  Bury St. Edmunds  Monday, 28th November, 2022

As I was heading to the Apex a short 15-mile trip from my home town of Thetford, I was extolling the virtues of the venue, the clarity of sound, the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff, as well as the magnificent decor of the venue itself. My enthusiasm was boundless as I told Photographer, Paul Hampson that tonight' s show was going to be incredible.

The support act, Jon Allen strolled onto the stage to begin his allotted 30-minute acoustic set of folk / blues. Jon has released 5 albums and he treated as to a laid-back display of playing which lacked fire or energy. While he was performing it occurred to me that there was no chance of getting a set list, so I wrote down the song titles that he announced. ‘Bad Penny’ became ‘Masquerade’ which segued into ’Take Me To Heart’ and ‘I Hope You Are Happy Now’.

By now I was not happy, I was bored and wanted a beer, but I was trapped in my seat and didn’t dare disturb the silence that emitted from the audience, I was stuck for the duration, I didn’t even dare go to the loo! ‘Can’t Stop Now’ continued to nullify my senses, then Jon regaled us with a story about Mark Knopfler, as he did this, I became aware that my bladder was in dire straits! Suddenly he produced a bit of energy and life with’ Dead Mans Suit’, a tale of buying clothes from charity shops!

Jon played well, his lyrics were great and he had a nice gravelly sound to his vocals, but now his set had finished I could get a beer, find Paul and more importantly visit the Gents! I found our photographer sitting alone, confused and not in the best of moods in the foyer.

He said, “People kept tutting and moaning while I was taking my shots, it made it impossible to do my work. I knew I couldn’t get to my seat without disturbing the silent seated crowd, so I just came out here and waited until it was over”.

Set List: Stop Messin’ Around/I Want You To Love Me/Nobody’s Fool/If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody/Can’t See What You Are Doing To Me/Two Time My Lovin’/Let Me Down Easy/Three Time Loser/Dying To Know/Bad Blood/Won’t Be Fooled Again/Watch ‘Em Burn/I’ve Been Loving You Too Long/Just Another Word/Fade Away/Runaway/Bad Love/Going Home/Encore/Just No Getting Over You/Mud Honey.

We had a quick beer and made a plan, just go to our seats do our stuff and see how it goes. Both myself and Paul are not the slimmest of people so with our bags we went to our seats, apologising as we disturbed those that were required to stand so we could get there. We then sat shoulder to shoulder, ready for Joanne Shaw Taylor to bring some excitement and energy to the stage.

I am not a huge Shaw Taylor fan on record, finding her studio work to be over produced and safe. However, in a live situation she would surely explode into life, using all her tricks, licks and kicks. Well, that is what I hoped for after viewing some of her live performances via YouTube. We had been told that under no circumstances could you stand, we had the lighting and mixing desk behind us and no other seats, but standing was still not allowed, by orders of Shaw Taylor.

Taylor had a band who were statuesque, her lead guitarist, played well but, lacked charisma and fire. To her right as we looked was a keyboard player whose fingers danced over the keys, this was high energy! The drummer tapped his drums obviously setting the required beat and rhythm for our rock goddess.

Her entrance elicited a polite response from the crowd who were definitely not here to rock. 3 songs in she spoke to the audience as she swished her hair, can you light them up she asked, 2 seconds later she berated the lighting crew for not reacting fast enough. Her set continued, devoid of passion, the audience devoid of life!

Paul and I were getting fed up with being squashed together, it was uncomfortable and we got the feeling the people either side of us were getting irritated as we tried to write and take photos. I whispered to him after the next song we have to go, he agreed. We gathered our bags from under the seats and headed for the exit, once more apologising to those that had to stand so we could escape!

To show you how un-Rock and Roll this show was we decided to head for my local pub in Thetford, largely to watch a friend play darts. For me, for us it was a disappointing evening and I am sure Joanne Shaw Taylor is normally exciting and entertaining. Maybe next time I can write a positive review?

Review & Jon Allen Photos By Paul 'Rhino' Mace

Joanne Shaw Taylor Photographs by Paul 'Animal' Hampson

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