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Published at 12:01AM, March 31 2015

It was an evening of fond farewells as Joan Armatrading welcomed us to the 120th night
of her “last major world tour”. First to go was her technical assistant, sacked after the
first number for deserting her post at the side of the stage. Only a joke it seemed,
although delivered by the star with a deadpan menace that made it difficult to be certain.

After this slightly awkward start, Armatrading, 64,was charm personified as she took off
on a one-woman voyage around her career. Accompanying herself on 6-string and
12-string guitars and keyboards, she applied her warm, husky voice to a set weighted in
favour of her acoustic singer-songwriter repertoire from the 1970s and 1980s, but
informed by the guitar-heavy emphasis of more recent albums, notably her 2007
collection Into the Blues
She pulled off some fabulous slide guitar on the blues holler My Baby’s Gone but the
electric guitar parts on Drop the Pilot and Me Myself I sounded a bit thrashy and
overdriven for the songs. However, the sense of occasion, coupled with Armatrading’s
tremendous rapport with an audience that has followed her for too long to stop just yet,
was more than enough to paper over any cracks.

Towards the end, Armatrading stopped playing and talked us through a slide-show of
career highlights: from young hopeful, pictured hanging around outside Ronnie Scott’s
club in 1973 to grand dame showing off her MBE in 2001. Along the way she was seen
rubbing shoulders with Paul McCartney, Elton John, Nelson Mandela and others, a
procession of proud, starry moments that contributed to the valedictory tone of the

Joan Armatrading Best Seats Reviews

We sent a few lucky winners to Joan Armatarding's last major world tour, here are their reviews!

I was lucky enough to win two free tickets to see Joan Armatrading's solo show in the Concert Hall at QPAC last night. My husband and I went along unsure of what to expect as we only really knew about three of her songs. We were not disappointed !

She is a truly talented artist and musician. To hold the audience spellbound whilst on stage alone with her three guitars and piano is quite a feat and she did it with such genuine passion and love of her music. Her skill on the guitars was most impressive. Joan has a great sense of humour and talked to the audience in between songs and also provided a small slide show of photographs from her early days starting out and talked us through the many highlights of her career one of them being a private meeting with Nelson Mandela.

Whilst we loved hearing her big hits Drop the Pilot and Me Myself I , we really enjoyed the songs that were not so familiar to us which I guess shows her real talent. It was no surprise when she received a standing ovation for the encore.

Thank you 612 ABC Brisbane for giving us the opportunity to enjoy a great evening out !!

Joan Aramtrading Review by Lindy from Jacobs Well

Being familiar with Joan Armatrading's songs, and enjoying a few favourites over the years, did not prepare me for what was billed as 'a very special solo evening with Joan Armatrading'.

It was indeed! Dressed simply in black, Joan stood alone on the stage, changing from 6 string to 12 string electric guitars to accompany each song (with a few numbers at the piano as well) and belted out all our old favourites. The audience, which was mostly of a 'certain' age that we fitted right into, could not contain their emotions. They yelled, clapped, stood and sang along with every number. Joan let them take over completely during 'Willow', and the chorus wasn't bad at all. As Joan has stated this will be her last tour, the performance was broken by a little reminiscencing about her career. A slide show was screened which featured Joan performing with the likes of Elton John and Paul McCartney, etc.

Before the show had started an announcement on screen had told us that parts of the show had been prerecorded. This took nothing from the performance - merely adding a little depth to the accompaniment. At one point the mechanics of this let us down, but after a few exchanges between Joan and the technicians, she decided to get on with it on her own. A spirited encore followed, and sadly the show was over.

Joan Armatrading Review by Paul from North Toowoomba
A life lived true can rarely be encapsulated in a little more than 90 minutes. But with a few guitars, an electric piano, and a video projector Joan Armatrading made it happen for her farewell concert at QPAC on Sunday night. Delivering a mixture of verse, music, history and humour she succeeded in bookending over 40 years of public artistic expression, the significance of which will only be truly recognised long from now.

Armatrading's evocative, moving lyrics and melodic, memorable music were skillfully delivered, demonstrating the reasons for her public popularity. However her humble recount of her extraordinary life told in words and pictures left no doubt that she is not just a performer but also a philosophical artiste who the good and the great have understood, supported and turned to. This was not a concert, it was an inspiration.

Sue from Mt Gravatt East's Home Review of Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading has a policy of using local talent for support at all her shows & giving them a leg up. The concert opened with a suitable singer songwriter act - Creature Kind. Good heartfelt songs with excellent singing & harmonies.

The highlight of their set was "We Cry" This is a song from the soundtrack of a documentary on JC Denim and Destiny Rescue - 2 projects involved in creating sustainable work for victims of sex trafficking in Cambodia, hand making quality jeans. Look for "We Cry" by David Baker - a charity single (find it on itunes) with all profits going directly to the JC denim project.

Joan Armatrading had us captivated from walking on stage, talking & joking to us as old friends. It was a packed house of fans from all generations. No-one has better banter, very witty. She started with a song from her first album & played classics from through the years, album tracks & the familiar singles, songs you know from the jukebox or the radio. She played acoustic & electric guitars or piano under her flawless voice. Subtle apt visuals were showing on the background screen.

Halfway through her set, she showed us a collection of photos from her 40+ year long career, from the 70s to now, telling stories of highlights & memories. She teased us that tonight she wouldn't be playing "Love & Affection" (most peoples' favourite) & resumed playing.

Through the set we heard all the familiar songs - "Drop The Pilot", "Me , Myself,I", "Down to Zero", "All the Way from America" & of course - "Love & Affection".

She played solo but didn't need a band & the songs were strong stripped back. A few songs dropped in some pre-recorded clips of familiar strings, sax or organ in the background. The songs are all in her own unique style, a clichfree zone in structure & lyrics. She is a great under-rated guitarist too. She strums rich & unusual chord sequences but can also shred viciously, pick delicately or play jazzy.

In the encore, there was a technical hitch. Her keyboard sounds were software driven, to emulate the original sounds from the records. The computer must have crashed but she handled it well & it didn't spoil the show. She finished with a singalong choir version of "Willow" & was gone.

A classic gig by a genius of her craft.

The sound mix was perfect for both acts. Vision was clear from every seat. QPAC is a great venue with fantastic engineers & staff.

Joan Armatrading Review by Robert from The Grange

Joan Armatrading gave an amazing solo performance at QPAC last night as the Brisbane leg of her "Last World Tour". She opened with "City Girl" from her very first album way back in 1972, and then took us with her on a retrospective of her long career, reminding us of her musical versatility with selections from her vast repertoire, old and new, from blues, jazz, classic anthems, rock, and heartfelt ballads; accompanying herself on electric and acoustic guitars and piano. Though now 64, she soon showed that her unique voice and musicianship were as strong as ever. There were so many highlights, but if I had to name just one, it would be her moving, piano accompanied "In These Times", made all the more powerful through the addition of projected images (used to great effect throughout the show).

From when she first walked out onto the stage, she connected with her audience. Her relaxed presence, with frequent self-deprecating humour, was quite a contrast to the shy performer I first saw over 30 years ago. This confidence comes from earning a most significant place amongst the best singer-songwriters over more than 40 years. Halfway through the show, still delivered in her own humble way, she gave a 'slide show' as a reminder of the long and stellar career she has had; dropping names and sharing pictures of her with everyone from Sir Paul and Sir Elton to the late Nelson Mandela himself!

She finished strongly, with a collection of her best known hits, starting with the timeless "Love and Affection" (despite having joked earlier about dropping it from her set list), "Rosie", and her mega-hit "Drop the Pilot". She finally encored with "Willow". Though this last song was beset with technical hitches, she managed, with her inimitable style and humour, to turn that too, into an incredible finale.

Whilst she did not actually perform her classic "Show Some Emotion" last night, she showed us heaps of that emotion and passion in spades. Nobody would have left the Concert Hall disappointed. Joan, you are a treasure!

Joan Armatrading, Hopkins Center for the Arts. At 64, playing her 201st show of her “last world tour,” she brought the house down and earned four standing ovations. Playing solo with just three guitars, she delivered her rock, blues and folk songs equally masterfully with renewed vigor.

Joan Armatrading: Mischievous and mesmerizing show at the Fox Theatre

Joan Armatrading made a stop at Tucson’s Fox Theatre during her ‘last major world tour’ October 16, 2015. Forty years of touring has not worn her down. She is one of the most enduring singer/songwriters around and this show was proof of why she has captivated audiences worldwide for so long.

Ms. Armatrading announced early in the show that this was the 250th show of this tour. She is not planning to retire, but she simply is tired of leaving home to go on tour and returning a year later. Joking she said, “I’m quite tired and so this is the last song.” The crowd laughed since she had not started playing yet. She, then, announced that her first song would be “All the Way From America.” She said,“Those of you who know the song, please join in. Those of you who don’t know the song, don’t join in.” Her sense of humor was in full gear for the night.

Joan Armatrading brought three guitars and a keyboard and a small screen in the background to augment her show, but no band. Many reviewers have compared Joan’s guitar licks as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix. She played many styles of guitar during this show. She is still SO good. No one seemed to miss the band!

Photos were displayed that encapsulated her rich career and she narrated the photos periodically during the show. Her narrations were priceless particularly regarding her early career. Photos of her and Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Nelson Mandela and much more. She seemed to be especially proud of her one-on-one meeting with Mr. Mandella. Thirty years ago, Ms. Armatrading was shy and did not converse with the fans. Since that time she has performed for crowds of 250,000 people at one time. That seems to have tempered her shyness.

The songs in the set were a selection of blues, folk, pop, rock, and jazz. Her style of songwriting is raw, soul bearing and brutally honest. Blend the song selection with her commanding, husky, rich and emotional voice and the result is magic. Joan can deliver falsetto as well as baritone with total control. This was one of the most spellbinding performances ever. Forty years has only served to make her better. Tucson has nothing but ‘love and affection’ for Joan Armatrading!

A rare solo performance by the vet British singer-songwriter on her final world tour

For what she's billed as her last-ever world tour, Joan Armatrading decided to live up to the title of one of her most popular songs, "My Myself I," and hit the road completely alone. For the first time in her 40-year career, the revered  64-year-old British-raised singer-songwriter was delivering her heartfelt, poignant blend of songs to audiences around the world on the strength of her own stage presence and with only guitar and piano.

Luckily, the extensive and rigorous touring schedule she's embarked on included a stop at downtown Clearwater's lush and intimate Capitol Theatre on Friday night. For an artist who rarely comes to America and hasn't ever really achieved the popularity here that she holds throughout Europe, she has enough loyal followers base that people still came out in droves to see her, and the jam-packed theater sang along and cheered wildly throughout her 90-minute performance. 

Taking the stage in simple, casual black slacks, top and sandals, Joan seemed downright appreciative and humbled by the first of many standing ovations she'd receive. A sparse stage with an array of guitars on one side, a small electric piano on the other and a modest video screen at the rear was what Armatrading had to work with. But the real treat was not only the charm and down-to-earth attitude she projected, but the witty and downright comical repartee she offered through the night. While she might come across as meek and withdrawn in the soul-bearing, brutally honest emotion she evokes through her songwriting, nothing could be further from the truth. When the applause subsided and she finally had a chance to speak, she greeted her adoring audience: "I though it might be a good idea to play a song from every album I've done ... but that's not gonna happen." She was met with more applause and some laughter, which would be repeated several times over the course of the evening.

She did, however, open her set with a nugget from her very first album, 1972's Whatever's For Us:  "City Girl" instantly thrilled and elated an already engaged audience comprised mostly of female fans. As a single spotlight shone on Joan and the video screen displayed different images of city skylines and landscapes, she instantly reminded concertgoers of what it is that really makes her so special: her confessional, personal lyrics and that voice, that rich, husky, emotive vocal range that has been her trademark throughout her long career. And it hasn't lost a single drop of its resonance. Armatrading sounded fresh and inspired as she delivered her impressive career overview of songs and plucked out some pretty impressive guitar work along the way.

"Since this is a long tour, this is my 137th or 138th gig...," she recalled, "I'm going have to cut this show short so, this will be my last song ... but thank you!" she joked after completing her second selection. Again, the crowd chuckled before settling in for more of her stunning artistry. 

Of her many gifts, dabbling in so many different genres successfully might be one of her most impressive. Her solemn solo piano delivery of "More Than One Kind of Love" took on a gospel feel. And she tackled folk, pop, jazz, blues and rock n' roll over the course of the night, too. Not an easy feat to accomplish. 

Sporting an almost invisible headset microphone, Joan commanded the rapt audience for the duration of the program. With some prerecorded accompaniment at times (as a disclaimer on the video screen warned at the onset of the show), Joan's commanding delivery of "All The Way From America" was augmented by a piped in string section. But, in all honesty, she didn't need the added track. She stood and held her own the whole night, proving her worth as a solo performer.

A short break came when Armatrading flashed a series of snapshots documenting her career on the screen and added some colorful, insightful and hilarious commentary throughout. Career highlights, clothing styles and anecdotes were shared with sharp wit and engaging banter.

Career-defining tune "Love and Affection" (which she'd jokingly said earlier in the program she would not play) was met with plenty of applause and elation. If Joan Armatrading's style, approach and flair had to be described in one single song, it'd have to be this one. From the 1976 self-titled album that put her on the musical map, the song is still as powerful and stirring as ever. And for those who sang along to every lyric and passionately swayed to the beat, it surely hasn't lost any of its meaning.

She wrapped up with the reggae lilt of "Rosie" and the infectious pop of "Drop the Pilot" and the anthemic "Me Myself I," which featured some mean, distorted, screaming electric guitar work that would've made Jimi Hendrix proud. But she didn't depart before getting a few more laughs, this time about how traditional encores usually play out at rock shows: "You've all been to concerts before, right?" she chided. Joan walked us through the scenario of the artist leaving the stage, being bombarded by cheers and applause, and then returning to the stage to play another song. "I'm going to do that, but instead, I'm just going to stand here" she said as she stayed planted at the lip of the stage and soaked in all the love and affection the crowd had left to bestow.

Ending with tender ballad "Willow" (from 1977's Show Some Emotion), Armatrading encouraged those who knew the words to sing along with the chorus. As many took her up on her request, an almost somber tone filled the room, most of us realizing this might be the last time we'd get to enjoy hearing such a truly original and inimitable artist perform live.

Set List:
CIty Girl
Promise Land
More Than One Kind of Love
All The Way From America
In These Times
Mama Mercy
My Baby's Gone
Down to Zero
Steppin Out
Kissin and a Huggin
The Weakness in Me
Empty Highway
Woncha Come On Home
Love and Affection
Drop the Pilot
My Myself I


It is not often that we have the privilege of seeing one of the world’s greatest musicians performing live on stage. Thanks to Real Concerts, Cape Town had the honour last night, when Joan Armatrading played at the CTICC. Her entrance on stage was greeted by a standing ovation, before she even opened her mouth.

Before she came on stage though, the audience was treated to the fresh-faced Jesse Clegg, who enthralled us with a rousing version of Sinnerman (first made famous by Nina Simone). He then introduced his newest single, released two days ago, Use Me. It’s good. Watch this space.

Not for nothing has Joan Armatrading had a career spanning over 40 years, 18 albums and a list of hits as long as your arm. From the first song to the last, her iconic voice brought goose bumps to the flesh and tears to the eyes.

The concert, billed ‘A Very Special Solo Evening with Joan Armatrading’ was a musical trip through her career as she moved between guitars and piano, playing a mix of much beloved hits and her less well-known ones. Armatrading caresses each instrument like a lover, and they respond accordingly, eliciting standing ovations from the audience numerous times.

Between songs, Armatrading was personable and funny. Mid-concert we were treated to a slide show of pictures of her career – the people she’s met, the places she’s been, the awards she’s won. She talked the audience through it, making funny, wry comments throughout, allowing a glimpse into her stardom.

Through an incredible, electric rendition of Me, Myself, I, we were reminded that, despite her 64 years, Joan Armatrading is the kind of rock star who never gets old. She is a musical genius. What an honour to witness her in an intimate venue like the CTICC.

My favourite moment? When, during the slide show during In These Times, a picture of Nelson Mandela showed and the audience erupted. Now that’s goose bump material.

Joan Amatrading performed at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 4 & 5 July 2015.


Joan Armatrading Delights in Career Retrospective


She isn't calling it a farewell tour, but after more than forty years performing all over the world, Joan Armatrading had previously announced that her current marathon trek will be her final global jaunt. The operative word here isn't so much "final" as "major." The British singer-songwriter has firmly stated in press releases that she will never retire. It's just that this 2014-2015 stretch through Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa, the UK, and, now, this spring, North America, is to be her last such venture. From now on, it's all about packing lighter for shorter touring bouts.

For an artist who is largely thought of as a folk singer-songwriter, this is Armatrading's first solo tour and the first she's done without a backing band. Folk wasn't an obvious trait at her concert at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan on April 17, especially as her main instrument was an electric guitar.

Armatrading's songs stand up well without embellishment, though the introduction of keys and string samples towards the end of the evening cluttered up the songs. In fact, one tune, the Eighties pop number "More Than One Kind of Love," had far more emotional and sonic power in a stripped-down setting that seemed tailor-made for Armatrading's catalog.

Her grasp of British Sarcasm, irony, and dry-dry wit is strong. She began the evening winding her audience up: "I thought I'd play a song from every album I've made," she said. Cue: deafening cheers. "But that's not going to happen." She picked up an electric guitar and went straight into the soulful "City Girl" from her 1972 debut Whatever's For Us. Before a monumental "All the Way From America" she said, "If you know it, join in. If you don't , then don't, because you'll spoil it," she joked with an impish grin.

Armatrading's main instrument is her earthy, throaty voice, which rose to a sparkling falsetto and fell in a melodious rumble. Sometimes it has a little yodel to it. "Promise Land" showed off its opulence and Joni Mitchell seemed a close musical compatriot. Like Mitchell, she tenderly tucks her voice into a song. "My Baby's Gone" had chunky Hendrix-y riffs and recalled Sixties psychedelic blues rock. "Me Myself I" was delivered with punk rock militant insistence, and "Rosie" pulsed with jaunty reggae.

In addition to the songs, which document her four-decade career, the screen at the back of the stage displayed a slide show of photos collected from Armatrading's life in music. She proudly narrated as the images flipped: there was Joan from the early Seventies, a tender tête-à-tête with the late Nelson Mandela in the Nineties, and then Armatrading anointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Aughts. Her life in music is all Armatrading is willing to part with publicly: she was born on the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts in 1950, but her life growing up working class in industrial Birmingham, a blue-collar city in the Midlands of the United Kingdom, didn't work its way into the evening's program.

Armatrading made her fans wait for the encore for the soul ballad "Willow," a huge touchstone for this and every audience. It's a "Let It Go"-type song about weathering life's ups and downs that champions both tenderness and strength. "Love And Affection" also conveyed similar duality: it was gentle and forceful, thoughtful and soaring, and not just through its lyrics, but in Armatrading's keen rhythmic sense. As with her ease with delivering a punch line, she knows how to softly and deftly strike a song's emotional core.

It was a different kind of "encore," dispensed without Joan leaving the stage, as per usual concerts. At the end of the main set, she said, "This is the end of the show. You've been to concerts before, you know what happens. I leave the stage, you cheer and shout, then I come back to do the encore. Instead I'm going to stay here." Folks cheered like she'd left the stage anyway, on and on they went. But then, at the beginning of the concert, they cheered the bejeezus out of the room before she played a note. Heaven forbid she ever retires. 

The Village Voice Blogs


Heralded as one of the UK’s most inspiring singer-songwriters, Joan Armatrading made a triumphant return to Holmfirth to highlight her status and very respectable back catalogue

With a career spanning over five decades, the Caribbean-born and Birmingham-raised singer-songwriter walked out to yet another sell-out audience on her extensive list of intimate shows. Show number 110 of her remarkable first solo and sadly final world tour, she opened with 1972 favourite ‘City Girl’ from her debut album, Whatever’s For Us.

Armatrading spent the next 90 minutes alone with simply a guitar and keyboard, reciting a set which aimed to include a least one song from each of her 20 albums. Among the more popular songs from a stunning back catalogue were ‘All the Way from America’, ‘Down to Zero’, ‘Drop the Pilot’, ‘Me, Myself and I’ and the breath-taking ‘The Weakness in Me’, which left the capacity crowd in admiration. Armatrading displayed her diversity by delving into reggae territory favourite, ‘Rosie’ and blues-esque ‘My Baby’s Gone’.

Through it all it was evident how empowering Armatrading has become and how captivating she is on stage.

She drew on her influences and set out the path for all who have followed in her footsteps. The distinctive and irrepressible voice remains as did her relaxed sense of humour. Reminiscing on stage with a pre-built photographic slideshow, Armatrading talked the audience through her upbringing and career highlights.

This showcased her many accolades, including the 1978 Bob Dylan concert at Blackbushe Aerodrome near Camberley, which still holds the record for largest single day-crowd. She also relived the 20th anniversary of democracy celebration in South Africa where she was invited as the only non-South African artist and went on to meet the late Nelson Mandela.

The anthemic ‘Love and Affection’ drew an extended applause and was among the more welcomed songs on the night. Armatrading opted for a more unconventional encore by remaining on stage, soaking up the admiration and love in the room. She ushered the crowd into the set closing ‘Willow’ which was echoed by the choir voices in the Yorkshire audience.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Joan Armatrading
Birmingham Town Hall

5 stars

THE Brummie singer-songwriter quite possibly played her last concert in Birmingham on Wednesday night and there was a distinct end-of-an-era feel to it.
At 65, the former schoolgirl from the Brookfields district of the city has made it clear that this will be her “last major tour” and, wandering on stage, she joked: “I came on here for something, but I can’t remember what.”

Then, three songs in, she announced that, because this was the 119th date of the tour and she was tired, she had decided to cut the concert short and this was to be her last song.
Appearing solo, without her customary band and with just a small selection of guitars and a piano, she then went on to captivate the audience for an hour-and-a-half.

Sparkling throughout with typically Brummie self-deprecating wit, she filled the Town Hall stage with the force of her personality, the power of her playing and, of course, that voice in a million on songs such as City Girl, from her first album way back in 1972.

alfway through, she introduced a slideshow of highlights from her four-decade career with a shot of the fresh-faced singer outside Ronnie Scott’s back in 1973.
There followed pictures of her with Paul McCartney, Elton John and Nelson Mandela, with her MBE and in the pages of the Beano.

To finish, she launched into a memorable rendition of Love And Affection, following it with other fan favourites Rosie, Drop The Pilot, Me Myself I and, as an encore, Willow – the crowd singing back to her the chorus raising the hairs on the back of the neck.


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