Joan Armatrading: Lowell and London

John Wooding of UMass Lowell and the COOL Board of Directors is a regular at the Lowell Summer Music Series. He sent us this instant review of Joan Armatrading’s performance at Boarding House Park last night, which sparked a cross-Atlantic memory for him. —PM

“Another great night at Boarding House Park.  Joan Armatrading was in fine fettle and clearly enjoying herself.  It took me back — way back.  I remember the last time I saw her, maybe 1977?  She was playing at Chalk Farm in London.  Thirty-three years ago.  Time like that is an oil slick. 

“Last night she did old and new stuff and the old stuff brought it back for me – Love and Affection, Show Some Emotion — s’funny how songs can be the jumper cables of memory.  Only reason I remember that other concert (although I have a vague image of her — young, very young, and self conscious) was that a friend was staying with me then and came to the show.  Later that night, back at my flat, he fell against the record deck and sent the needle skidding across my copy of “Let It Be.”  Sent the little arm on a vacation “Across the Universe.”  I had to listen to that click for years until I got the CD.

“Thirty-three years.  The speed of an LP on the turntable.  Another hot summer night in Lowell.  Perfect evening.  In front of me last night, three young women —  maybe 16, 17 — rocking out to Armatrading, knowing all the words from all the songs, high-fiving each other when a favorite got played.  So good to see them, connecting the times.  This is what Lowell can sometimes do so well.  History getting up there with the present and, maybe, even the future.  Score another one for the music series.”

—John Wooding