Joan Ar­ma­trad­ing will be 65 when her lat­est long tour ends but the ‘70s sen­sa­tion re­mains keen to ex­plore. This time she’s per­form­ing solo – just her voice, a gui­tar and a pi­ano, and those songs

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ar­du­ous tours in the fu­ture.

“I will do shorter things but I will never re­tire. I’ve never done a world tour on my own, so that’s a first. And I haven’t played the pi­ano on stage for years, prob­a­bly not since 1976.

“Some of th­ese songs I have sung on stage with a band but not played (on an in­stru­ment), so there is a lot to it. It is a lit­tle nerve-rack­ing to think that if I for­get a word I can’t look at the key­board player hop­ing they will re­mem­ber – I’m re­ally on my own.’’

Much has changed in the mu­sic world since Ar­ma­trad­ing broke through with her 1976 hit Love And Af­fec­tion.

“A good song can still take you far – look at Adele or Amy Wine­house or Sam Smith. It is dif­fer­ent now though. When I started, more peo­ple were given the op­por­tu­nity to re­alise their po­ten­tial,” she says.

“My first al­bum was in 1972 (but) it wasn’t un­til my third al­bum ( Joan Ar­ma­trad­ing), with Love And Af­fec­tion, that I be­came known all over the world

“A lot of artists th­ese days aren’t given that op­por­tu­nity. If the first sin­gle doesn’t sell, that’s it, they’re dropped by the record company.

“The tech­nol­ogy is there for the artist to present their songs freely, to put a song up on YouTube or Sound­cloud or what­ever out­let they choose. That’s great to build a lit­tle fan base but to project to a mass of peo­ple, you can’t do that your­self. It’s a skill but it’s not our skill as artists.

“If you look at Arc­tic Mon­keys, Lily Allen or Ed Sheeran, it’s when the record com­pa­nies pick them that they have mas­sive suc­cess.’’

Ar­ma­trad­ing is thank­ful for the support that has de­liv­ered a cat­a­logue of much-loved songs, from Me My­self I and Show Some Emo­tion to Drop The Pi­lot, I’m Lucky and The Shout­ing Stage. In­flu­ences from folk, rock, jazz, soul and blues all shine through.

Her 2006 re­lease Into The Blues was her first No.1 on the Bill­board blues charts, a first for any fe­male artist from the UK. It also won her a Grammy for best blues al­bum. Last year’s Starlight had a strong jazz strain.

“I know ex­actly why I am here; I was born to write and I’m at my hap­pi­est when I’m writ­ing. I don’t need any­body to tell me to do that. It was never the record company say­ing, ‘Joan, you’ve got to make a rock record.’ Their nur­tur­ing part was to give me the space to do what I was do­ing. Once I’d given them the mu­sic, they’d run with it. I must say that when I told the record company that I wanted Love And Af­fec­tion to be a sin­gle, they did say to me, ‘Re­mem­ber Joan, you asked for it,’ ” she says with a laugh. Her in­tu­ition song was right.

As she trav­els the world in the next year, Ar­ma­trad­ing will do what she has al­ways done – keep an eye out for de­tails that can make a song.

“I wrote The Shout­ing Stage in Aus­tralia. I was in a restau­rant and heard this cou­ple hav­ing an ar­gu­ment. It be­came louder and louder and the guy just got up and stormed out. I thought, ‘What got them to the shout­ing stage?’

“We all see the same things but as a writer you ob­serve it in a slightly dif­fer­ent way, just as a painter would look at the colours.’’

And a writer like Ar­ma­trad­ing sees the emo­tions.

Joan Ar­ma­trad­ing will per­form at Twin Towns on Satur­day night.

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