FULL TILT: JANIS JOPLIN
I suppose your enjoyment of this show will depend on how much you rate Janis Joplin and recognise her as a valid contributor to the legacy of women in rock. Personally I go both ways on Joplin-in this I feel the same as I do about her male contemporary Jim Morrison who at times I consider to be overblown, pretentious and deluded but at others see a spark of something special especially in the simplicity of tracks such as ‘Love Street’ which is like being enveloped by a warm summer breeze- as at her best ,Mercedez Benz’ and ‘Me and Bobbie McGee’, she actually cuts through the crap, drops the wrenched out angst and actually delivers.
Similarly I don’t think she did much to further women’s causes in rock and roll-unless you class looking like an unmade bed a step forward- as she was outclassed by men and rather than using her unconventional looks as strength she tried to feminize herself with feather boas and jewellery and simply managed to look like a particularly bad drag queen. She was however the first female in rock and roll to receive a huge amount of attention and there is no denying her unmistakeable charisma so she does warrant a place in the pantheon of rock greats.
This production however does her proud and Angela Darcy provides an authentic-if infinitely prettier- Joplin capturing perfectly her cheeky chuckle along with her over punctuation of everything with ‘man’ whilst slugging out of a bottle of Southern Comfort. The band is tight and sound convincing and if an evening in the company of Janis Joplin and her music is your bag then this is very much a show for you.
I, myself, was enthralled by the show as it captured the mood, tempo and music of the Joplin I admire. It becomes apparent that she always lived in character and outside of herself so therefore her alienation and dependence on drugs and alcohol became more and more inevitable. When the band and Darcy leave the stage during ‘Ball and Chain’ and we are left with the real Joplin performing her legendary monologue at the Monterey festival with a voice that is already cracked ,weary and a thousand years old; it is easy to believe her when she croaks ‘It’s all the same fucking day man’