by / October 7th, 2009 /

Joan As Police Woman – Crawdaddy, Dublin

We Cut Corners are Conall O’Breachain and John Duignan, a drum/guitar duo ala, well, you know the set up. These guys, playing support, are fresh though. Admitting to being ‘unbelievably nervous’ the lads garner immediate attention with O’Breachain’s gender bending falsetto and lightly strummed cymbals over Duignan’s gentle guitar. This breaks swiftly into a rocking alternative pop number with melodic power chords over some energetic percussion. Their shared vocals couldn’t be more complimentary with Duignan’s tones weaving a warmness into the delivery. The lyrics are sharp and clever with a heavy dose of humour. Bright Eyes immediately comes to mind, especially during the somewhat scathing -Dumb Blonde’ (‘of which he’s pretty fucking fond’), a song for Scandinavian types apparently. Softly spoken between songs the boys exude a coy charisma. The set comprises of short but perfectly formed indie-gems; catchy chorus after catchy chorus, these tunes are strong. Though sparsely arranged We Cut Corners are not missing a single note. These guys are definitely ones to watch. You can catch them on Friday October 16th in Andrews Lane Theatre are part of the HWCH Weekend.

Joan Wasser casually wanders on stage, mug of tea in hand. Crawdaddy is dimly lit, cavernous and packed to capacity. It’s a smaller venue than Joan As Police Woman is used to playing in these parts, probably more akin to the New York club circuit from which she started. Though advertised as a solo gig Wasser is touring with sometimes band mate and multi-instrumentalist Timo Ellis, who bears a striking resemblance to a scruffy Rufus Wainwright. Opening with a piano driven song dedicated to Freddie Mercury, Wasser is in fine fettle. Her vocal is crystal clear, remarkably so. She’s looking good too, all big hair in a bright red animal print jumpsuit. The crowd agree with approving mutters, ‘she’s looking well’ like she’s a returning local spotted down the Post Office.

The tour is entitled Interpretation Domination where by she ‘takes other peoples songs and fucks them up’. It’s normally accompanied by a CD which you can buy at the gig, except they’ve run out so there’s a mail order system going on. There are more than a few unusual covers in there with -She Watched Channel Zero’ by Public Enemy and T.I.’s -Whatever You Like’. These are warmly received but then again the Irish audience have always enjoyed Ms Wasser’s company. Her dry on-stage banter is all very familiar and is very much a part of the show and it is nice to catch up. Iggy Pop’s -Baby’ is probably the first tune to get any sort of recognition from the crowd and it’s a spirited punk-rock rendition. In fact, tonight’s show has an energy around it that makes you forget Joan is perhaps most recognised for her albums’ ballads.

So far so, well, fine. By the time Joan play’s -Save Me’ the reception is more than gracious. It’s a soulful song even if the backing tape doesn’t do it justice. Just so you know, the backing tape is the third member of the band, or rather her pet ‘Armetis’ the 4-track recorder, even getting it’s own introduction and tale of inception. These tapes were recorded by Joan and Timo before the tour, whether they are wholly successful is questionable. There’s not much backing for -The Ride’, just piano and drum, which proves to be the most moving song of the night; a major crowd pleaser. In saying that her new material came close to over-shadowing the old favourites. -Flash’ is a tale of becoming a lover for the first time, sung over gently plucked guitar with a breathy rhythmic accompaniment from Timo, the room was hushed and stunned. It’s starkingly beautiful. -Nervous’ has a slinky bass line and is instantly memorable. It’s a radio friendly number along the lines of -Christobel’, which was oddly absent along with a quite few other hits.

Why Joan is covering these tracks isn’t clear. Sure they are wonderfully delivered, enjoyable and certainly a lot of fun; not least her bubble-gum punk version of Britney’s -Overprotected’. However, there’s certainly no question about what Joan As Police Woman special, that’s talent, charm, voice and it’s also her songs.

Photos by Damien McGlynn.
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  • x

    Great review. Would just like to add that We Cut Corners are indeed marvellous and that Joan’s cover of Bowie’s Sweet Thing is gorgeous

  • Ciaran

    just like to second the comment about Bowie’s ‘sweet thing’, it was bloody stunning.

  • tam t

    Joan was massive ! missed We cut corners but heard they were something special too.

  • tammy

    Third time to see japw. Better with her full band and her own songs. First time to see we cut corners. They rocked ! So cute too. Are they from dublin ?

  • Tammy,

    I’m not sure where the guys are from. I think they may have a Laois connection. They are up on Facebook etc if you need to find out more.

    Cheers