In a dark room a diverse crowd of all ages gathers for Joan As Policewoman. Last year Joan collaborated with Benjamin Lazar Davis on the experimental album Let It Be You. An anxious crowd bubbles with excitement for their appearance, Joan and Benjamin take to the stage to a roar of applause. Without a word, a quick count-in hurls the room into life.
At first, it’s an interesting spectacle. Joan, like a Bonnie Tyler in a straight jacket, whips her hair around joined by Benjamin’s slightly unsettling head and face twitching, but the crowd still seems pleased. By the second or third song the crowd is in a gentle sway and there’s a clear dynamic between the two parties. The euphoric, slightly melancholic synth-pop of Joan and Benjamin’s asylum boogie has roused the chin scratchers and foot tappers in attendance this evening.
However, as the set list drags on, the momentum and interest begins to waver as each euphoric jog takes the same path of long drawn out notes and unusual and ‘out there’ drum beats that tire quickly, even Benjamin’s quirky head-twitch gimmick grows old. It must be said that Joan, coincidentally, leads her group like Joan of Arc wielding a synthesizer, but, both Joan and Benjamin’s interactions with the crowd stank of stereotypical American-Irish jokes about Irish people having the craic and milling pints. Some applauded and some yawned, but enthusiasm does start to slip when Benjamin starts to discuss his time in Ghana.
At this point, the song ‘Overloaded’ really starts to sum up the evening. The music itself is trying desperately hard to appeal to a 1980’s aesthetic of euphoric synth-pop, the interactions between the group and the audience becomes increasingly forced and clichéd and the most notable gimmick (blue boiler suit dress code) is an obvious clear and calculated image passed off as hilarious coincidence.
As Joan takes to a solo piece, the atmosphere is on the floor and it’s now more a case of people wanting to look engaged and entertained than actually being entertained. However, it must be said that following this and the final encore, the atmosphere was brought back up. Joan As Policewoman failed to ever shake more than a gentle sway and a lot of the set felt more like one continuous song than the alleged experimental album.