Blue Tattoo at the Black Swan, October 10, 2009 Toronto

Blue Tattoo

Reviewed by Sandy Graham

When you first see Joe Mavety off stage, you think what a sweet looking man, but rock guitar star? Doubtful.

The second he straps on his Firebird Gibson guitar he is transformed into guitar guru before your very eyes (and ears).

Starting off his concert at the legendary Black Swan, Mavety says “let’s keep it mellow for a little while.” and lulls the audience into a soft jazz instrumental that is comforting to listen to and all about the music. He then plays ‘Broken English’, the song that was a hit for Marianne Faithfull and co written by Mavety in 1979, when Mavety was her guitarist and musical director touring Great Britain.

His choice of material is brilliant, taking his fans to musical heights with Dylan’s wistful ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’, a song my Cashbox colleague Kathy Hahn (in attendance as well) thought should be re-released again immediately for commercial airplay.

Throughout his original tunes he takes you from his Marianne Faithful ‘Broken English’ days, to other tunes by weaving in the bass lines reminiscent of the Peggy Lee hit ‘Fever’ and coming out on the end with the 60’s blues tune ‘Spoonful’, a drug anthem that made the charts by Cream. Ironically enough, there are times watching Mavety on stage that he looks like Eric Clapton in his later years, effortlessly playing lead and rhythm licks that could stop a train.

Joe Mavety’s version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’, the Jimi Hendrix hit that was another anthem of the hippie generation, sneaks up on you as he whispers the lyrics in a blues induced voice that is uniquely his own.

Off stage, Mavety is shy and quite humble. “I would love the opportunity to travel again, play the soft seat or festival circuit in the blues or jazz circles” he states. Speaking on his days in England he said ‘Well, I spent a decade there and enjoyed my time working with the Brits and of course, Marianne Faithful. In England, the music business was all there. You could knock on the door of Island Records and get in to see what they thought of your material. The industry changed and so did I. It was time to come home.”

Blue Tattoo his back-up band consisted that evening of Bob Long on keyboards, Jack Tasse playing an amazing 5 string electric bass, and enthusiastic and loyal drummer Steve Thomas.   Their synchronicity as a band is tight and direct, looking like they barely have to exchange looks on stage to take the music to where it needs to go.

If you are a soft jazz fan, or a blues follower, this is an act you need to experience. It is hard to label them in one category; they capture and sustain your attention throughout the sets. The music stand on its own – Mavety is the magic that ties it all together.

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