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Lost on tour; For Joan Armatrading the time and place isn't important, it's all about the music. She talks talks to Dave Owens from somewhere in Germany.

Byline: Dave Owens

JOAN ARMATRADING doesn't know where she is.

She's aware that she's in a hotel somewhere in Germany on the phone to me. However other than that she's none the wiser.

It's not that Joan is not interested in where s "I haven't a clue where I am and I don't know what day it is," she reveals.

I'm her first phone interview of the day and the croak in her voice suggests she may not have long woken up.

I ask the veteran singer famous for her hits Drop The Pilot and Love And Respect if I had heard her correctly and isn't it a bit disconcerting not knowing where you are from one day to the next? She laughs at my line of questioning. "You're so constantly on the move, you travel to the venue, do the soundcheck, you do the gig, you go back to the hotel and then the next day you do it all again. When you tour you're in your own world and it's easy to lose track. The way I am is a by product of doing this for so long. You do have to be of a certain mindset to cope with it."

When we speak Joan is on the European leg of a world tour to promote her new album - This Charming Life - and just for the record she's at the Quality Hotel in Erfurt, a city at the geographical centre of Germany, located 150 km north of Nuremberg.

The tour will see her on the road until the end of the year - taking in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

It's a well trodden path for the 59-year-old who has been touring the world for more than 30 years, that's why you won't see Joan out with her guidebook sightseeing at her various stopping off points.

"I just don't like having days off," she explains. "When you've been touring as long as I have at various points in my career I've seen most places, plus you lose momentum with days off. That's why on rest days I end up doing interviews, for me that's an extension of the tour."

I ask about the highs and lows of touring.

"The high is the two hours you are on stage, it's what you live for. It's about seeing the audience, seeing their faces when they hear a certain song and nudge each other when they recognise it, when they hold each other's hands, kiss each other, all the things that say to me they're connected to the song."

"Whatever lows then would be more than offset by the highs, however if there was anything it would be the travelling.

Yesterday we were on the coach for what seemed like a whole day, it got to the stage I wanted to shout, 'Are we there yet?' That can be wearing."

As for the audience themselves, Joan reckons it's difficult to predict what to expect from one country to the next. "They are different wherever you go. You'll get crowds that are a little quiet and then those that go mad. One thing I can say is that in the US they are the most enthusiastic audiences, they are very genuine."

I wondered if she tired of having to trot out the two monster hits she scored when she was younger. "No, I would if that's all I was able to do," she explains. "As long as I can play my new songs I'm happy.

"Love and Affection is just five minutes, Drop The Pilot is just five minutes, that's just 10 minutes of a two hour set."

The live show will see Joan perform seven new songs from her new album, it's another fine offering of her inspirational pop rock songs.

After years on major labels the new collection is released on German label Hypertension.

"I was on A&M Records for a long time, then BMG for a while," says Joan. "I didn't want to do it myself, I didn't want all that responsibility so I looked for a small label. Hypertension were very keen, so I went with them.

"I'm still able to do what I want to do, that's the rewarding thing. People are still interested in the records.

"To start at 22 and still be doing it at 59 is amazing!" Joan Armatrading plays St David's Hall, Cardiff tonight. Tickets are available from the box office on 029 2087 8444.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 2, 2010
Words:745
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