Joan As Police Woman – Hollywood Avondale June 11, 2022

Joan As Police Woman put on a show in Avondale last night that was both exquisite and shambolic. The music was wonderful, but there were a few glitches.

Joan is Joan Wasser and her band consists of Eric Lane (Keyboards), Benjamin Lazar Davis (bass, guitar & found percussion) and long-time friend and collaborator Parker Kindred on drums and vocals. Joan herself played keyboards and guitar and sang beautifully.

The Hollywood was set up for seating with little space up front for dancing (more on that later). So, the sell-out crowd spent the moments before the live music began drying off from the torrential rain outside and warming up with a drink or two.

With no opening act on the bill we were due to be treated to two sets by Joan and the band. This first one began at about 8:45 and got underway with Get My Bearings, from The Solution Is Restless, Joan’s most recent studio record, a collaboration with the late, great Tony Allen and Dave Okumu.

Joan as PolicewomanNeedless to say, Parker Kindred had no trouble filling in for Tony Allen. Well, filling in is a disservice… Parker made these tracks his own.

But while he and the other three musicians can certainly play and sing with the best of them, they had trouble hearing themselves.

Keep in mind, these folks play together more like jazz musicians that pop stars, so there are no click tracks, etc and they need to feed off of each other’s playing, so communication is key.

From the very beginning of the set we could see Kindred waving his arms around pointing and indicating for monitors to be turned up, down or whatever.

With no opening act to complicate matters, one would have thought these problems would have been dealt with at sound check…especially when we were told that Joan’s beloved sound man, Matthew was behind the desk.

So why the distracting monitor issues?

Fortunately the band settled in and Joan’s endearing personality put the focus on the music and her songs.

Still there was a bit of mic feedback just before Masquerader, but the band dug in and reacted by really cooking.

The first set felt like a New York City jazz club date and highlights included a cover of David Bowie’s Sweet Thing (from Diamond Dogs) and Benjamin Lazar Davis’ guitar solo during I Keep Forgettin’ (yes, Joan and co can even make this old Michael McDonald tune sound groovy (although, to be fair, it was written by Leiber and Stoller.

Two tunes from 2018’s Damned Devotion rounded out the first set and we retired to the merch table, toilets and bar eagerly anticipating the second.

Set two got started just after 10pm, but just barely. This time it wasn’t the monitors causing problems, but the lights. As soon as the band took the stage they reacted to stage lights shining in their eyes.

Yes, we now could see them, but they couldn’t see anything.

Again, one would have thought this would have been worked out before show time.

Instead Joan asked if there was a lighting guy, while Parker took matters into his own hands, moving the two lights on each side of the stage off Joan and himself.

Now, they were happy, but we, the audience, were not, as we couldn’t see them.

A bit more fluffing around took place, help arrived and the music began again.

The one positive out of all this was that it loosened up the vibe between artist and audience.

Within a few minutes of Let It Be You starting off, a good portion of the seated crowd were now standing near the stage and shaking their collective booties.

So, what began as a NYC jazz café had turned into Studio 54 (without the debauchery).

The lighting situation was still an issue after the 12 minute Enter The Dragon…”more lights, we have to be able to see each other”, pleaded Parker.

The funk kicked in with Dinner Date as Joan encouraged “interpretive dancing”. This moved on to The Barbarian, another jam that got the feet tapping and the heads bobbing.

Joan told us how thrilled she was to get a message from our PM the night before (the two share a birth date) and all was good as the second set closed with a heartfelt version of Timmy Thomas’ Why Can’t We Live Together.

For the encore, Joan dug back to her 2011 album, The Deep Field, for a solo performance of Forever And A Year, then the band returned for The Magic.

And yes, despite the technical hiccups there was magic in the air.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Brenna Jo Gotje:

Joan As Police Woman Set 1
  1. Get My Bearings
  2. Take Me To Your Leader
  3. Masquerader
  4. Sweet Thing
  5. Geometry Of You
  6. I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)
  7. Warning Bell
  8. Steed (For Jean Genet)

Set 2

  1. Let It Be You
  2. Enter The Dragon
  3. Feed The Light
  4. Tell Me
  5. Dinner Date
  6. The Barbarian
  7. Why Can’t We Live Together
  8. Forever And A Year
  9. The Magic