Saturday, October 25, 2008
EAST BRUNSWICK CLUB
In 2006 Joan As Police Woman delivered one of the gigs of the year, alone with a grand piano, a guitar and a 40-watt amp at a nearly full Northcote Social Club. Since then her Real Life album has been passed around, and hot on the heels of her new album To Survive, comes the first of two sold-out shows and a very different looking Joan Wasser.
Supporting her is the odd choice of singer and guitarist from Sydney’s Red Riders, Adrian Deutsch. Moody, gently atmospheric, smartly dressed, humble and nerdy in a Ben Folds way, Deutsch spreads his spacious Stratocaster chords through an intense but gentle set. Leave Love, Split The Difference, and closing track The Partisan are highlights, and show he has a career likely to extend beyond or away from Red Riders’.
Arriving adorned in a tight sparkly silver dress, blonde shoulder length hair, heavy glittered eyelashes and bronze moon boots Wasser proceeds to gently blow our minds. Seamlessly switching from endearing and humorous banter and astonishingly tender and beautiful songs, Wasser and her band (brilliant drummer and singer Parker Kindred and bassist Rainy Orteca) kick off with a smoky rendition of Honor Wishes with vocals as delicately balanced as the glass of tea on her amp. “This is a song I wrote for Whitney Houston,” she explains to a warmly burbling audience. “I think we should all pray for Whitney,” she says before playing the opening chords to The Ride, which lifts the gig into a higher echelon.
The next song, To Be Lonely, is so slow, empty and tender that even the bartenders hush a little. Stories about the raptures of flourless chocolate cake, her fascination with koalas and dissatisfaction with her government pepper the remainder of the set via her brisk version of new single Holiday, a take on Jimi Hendrix’s Fire that can only be described as smouldering, a solo version of To Survive that drips with aching sincerity, her face twisting with feeling, finally satisfying a reckless heckler with a delicate and exuberant Anyone before an incredible version of Eternal Flame.
Returning for the encore Wasser meticulously thanks everyone involved with her tour before berating Kindred for his slack pace in kicking off To America it’s themes spelled out with the slowly consuming sound effects of buildings cashing and fireworks exploding; an oddly accurate way to depict her dual effects on our psyches. Remarkable.