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Joanne Shaw Taylor/Aaron Keylock: Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
28th October 2016

ian sutherland
Ian Sutherland

joanne shaw taylor

Oxfordshire guitar prodigy Aaron Keylock must be fed up hearing it but he looks so young. Up on the stage of Dunfermline's Carnegie Hall he looks like a throwback to the seventies period he loves with his slender frame quivering and long hair flying as he throws everything into his playing.

Most of the audience here are what you might politely call veterans of the blues scene and probably haven't seen anyone this young playing power trio blues rock for decades.

Backed by his equally impressive band, Keylock has only recently turned eighteen, but with a string of tours already behind him, his manic and lengthy soloing sounds mature well beyond his years. In the manner of many of the bands who have influenced him there is little in the way of connection with the audience, aside for the occasional muttered comment between songs. He is serious about his music and is here to play, play, play.

Highly impressive though the musicianship is he also writes all of his own material which can also be viewed as highly commendable of course. However I struggled to find any truly memorable tunes among the selection he and his band gave us this time and I am curious about his forthcoming debut album to see if he has any killer tunes on there.

I found his vocals weren't particularly strong either and the talk in the crowd afterwards was all about his impressive playing, how good his drummer is and yes, that youth thing again. I think the only way to get past that is to add some cracking songs to his repertoire and if he can do that then the sky is the limit. In the meantime he may have to put up with the 'pretty good for a young guy' stuff but who knows, he could be responsible for a whole new generation finding the blues.

joanne shaw taylor

Headliner Joanne Shaw Taylor should be a good role model for Mr Keylock as she has been there, done that and sold the t-shirts to prove it. Discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics at the tender age of sixteen, she has made the most of that opportunity and six albums into her career can sell out a theatre like this one on a massive trek around the country in support of new album 'Wild'.

Through a combination of hard work, grit and sheer talent she is now long past any gender based comparisons about her playing and is respected and admired by her peers like Joe Bonamassa.

The start of the show is unfussy and businesslike with the band simply walking on stage, plugging in and going straight into new songs 'Dyin' To Know' followed by 'Nothin' To Lose'. The band are tight, the guitar playing is impeccable and there are some nice vocals too but the performance has a feel that things are just warming up. The three guys who make up the band are content to let the star of the show make all the running and fortunately she has a cheerful and engaging manner to go with all that playing and singing talent. In fact she smiles a hell of a lot for a blues player.

As the show continued through a selection of songs old and new, the performance built up so that tracks like 'Watch 'Em Burn' and 'Wanna Be My Lover' would burst into life and gain in intensity as the soloing got more and more impressive. Her guitar tech kept supplying her with new guitars what seemed like every song and Ms Shaw Taylor would make them sing sweetly in her hands, that iconic long blonde hair trailing behind her.

joanne shaw taylor

She would occasionally get caught up in the moment with one of her bandmates and turn away from the audience when I would have loved to see her right at the lip of the stage and really projecting herself out at the audience but maybe that's too showbiz for her tastes. The lady certainly has her own style and I got caught up in it along with everyone else tonight.

The only cover song of the night, Bowie's 'Wild Is The Wind', showed a slightly different edge to those smoky vocals and when she slowed it down in 'Time Has Come' to more traditional blues fayre the soloing was fiery and passionate. For me the closing duo of songs 'Tied & Bound' and 'Going Home' showcased the best of what was on offer here with some driving, groovy, really rocky blues.

I would rather that things had started at the same energy levels they finished on but it was very much worth the wait. All the ingredients are present and correct here for anyone who enjoys their blues rocked up with smoking hot playing and a voice to match. The smiles just add a cheery charm to the equation which makes it all a little bit different in vibe.

Catch the lady soon as I think next time round she’ll be playing bigger halls than this.


Aaron Keylock

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Joanne Shaw Taylor

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