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Joan As Police Woman live at Crawdaddy, Dublin
A stripped-down performance didn't slow down Joan As Police Woman.
Kilian Murphy, 14 Aug 2006
Essentially an unplugged gig, though it’s difficult to know if Joan (As Police Woman) Wasser prefers to showcase her music in scaled-down affairs such as this. After all, it’s not like she favours a minimal/lo-fi approach on record.
A useful self-imposed constraint to keep her live performances more focused, or an unfortunate side-effect of having to bring the Big Music to small venues like Crawdaddy? Regardless, while the smaller scale may drastically alter the sound of Wasser’s music, it does little to diminish its impact.
Wasser proves to be a captivating hostess throughout: bare-shouldered, big-white-teethed, scraggly-haired, she quizzes the crowd about the best Dublin nightspots, or the best place to get a cheap Casio keyboard (Argos, seemingly).
She switches between organ and guitar throughout the evening – and there are frequent shout-outs to her (“French and single!”) soundman. It’s a relatively low-key show – no guest appearances from Wasser’s more-celebrated friends and collaborators, Rufus Wainwright and Antony (of Antony And The Johnsons fame). But did we miss them? Not at all!
Highlights? Album stand-out ‘Eternal Flame’ remains a stirring, dizzyingly confident number, while ‘The Ride’ is delightfully gentle and woozy when pared-down to just keys. The mood of ebullient good cheer is lifted even further when the audience break into an impromptu rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ – though this isn’t as random as it sounds, it being the Police Woman’s birthday and all (she’s even presented with a cake on-stage, at the set’s conclusion). There's still some room for a little poignancy, though, as Wasser dedicates a sparse, haunting ‘We Don’t Own It’ to the sadly departed Elliot Smith.
Excellent stuff – hopefully she’ll be back soon, to show us what she can do in a bigger venue, with a full band in tow.