London and fine jazz – a Shaw thing

We battled public transport. We crossed a bulging river. We ran the gauntlet of a cussing hobo. But we got there. And it was worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears to get there. Ian Shaw is one splendid jazz singer.

My music-mad husband has this thing about Joni Mitchell. He loves her music, her lyrics, her everything. A while ago he discovered that Welsh jazz singer, Ian Shaw, had made an album entirely of Joni covers. So he bought the album. And now he has a bit of a thing for Ian Shaw. Not really, but kind of.

Ian Shaw lives in London and one of his favourite venues to perform at, we have discovered, is the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, north London. We bought tickets for his Saturday night gig there earlier this year. Being the weekend, the usual tube routes were disrupted, so our only option was to travel by bus. As we always do, we allowed ourselves an extra hour to get there. Buses were late, diverted and voluminously far apart. We resisted every urge to turn round and go back home again, but we eventually got to Dalston and walked and walked and walked.

We turned around and walked back the way we came and discovered the road to the club was right next to the bus stop where we’d alighted. We turned down the road, and saw the lights of the club. It lifted our hearts and we hoped we hadn’t missed the entire show. Our final hurdle was to walk past a dodgy, tatty and foul-mouthed homeless person who drank from his brown paper bag and called me a word I don’t even like to think. The evening was not turning out the way we’d planned.

We got upstairs to the jazz room an hour and a half after his show was due to start. We discovered that Ian Shaw had not. Yet. Begun. His. Show. Woohoo! We sat at our table, exhaled, ordered two tall, chilled glasses of wine and Ian Shaw walked to the piano. Our timing, as it turned out, couldn’t have been better. The Vortex Club is a small, intimate jazz club with a raised platform at the front with a grand piano on it. The rest, as they say, is music.

We got treated to about two hours of fabulous entertainment. An accomplished, award-winning and crazily talented jazz singer, Ian Shaw opened the show with his version of Joni’s Coyote . Sublime. He then sang his way through a mix of songs from Joni (including a stunning cover of A Case of You – one of my favourite Joni numbers), Elvis Costello (Shipbuilding) and some songs he had penned himself – achingly honest and angst-ridden and wonderfully lyrical.

It wasn’t surprising to learn that Ian Shaw used to be a stand-up comedian. The witty banter between songs was brilliant. We laughed so much and it felt like we’d been treated to a double act. You had to be there, really, but his list of reasons for wanting to lose weight made me laugh till I ached.

He’s something of a national treasure. And such a pleasure to listen to. He loves performing locally and is a regular at the Vortex Club. We’re going to see him again next month. Only this time we’ll travel there on the new overground train. And this time, you’d better watch out, Mr Hobo – shake your filthy mouth at me and I’ll give you something to drink about!

Sunshine signing off for today!


19 thoughts on “London and fine jazz – a Shaw thing

  1. Cue the Twilight Zone music again…I LOVE Joni Mitchell (and my ex-boyfriend used to sing “A Case of You” to me!). I must find this Ian Shaw album…


  2. I agree. Lovely as usual, Sunshine!

    So if I were about to download a bunch of Ian Shaw tracks, where would I start? Any suggestions?

    1. Thank you so much! If you click on the words “Ian Shaw” at the start of the third paragraph in my blog post, that link will take you to Ian Shaw’s website and you can see what albums he has brought out. Check him out on youtube too, and iTunes certainly have his songs to download. Let me know how you get on, and what you think! xx

      1. Hey Maura – I just realised that I misunderstood your question. Duh. Sorry. I would start with the Joni album – Drawn to All Things – the Songs of Joni Mitchell (in particular A Case of You, Talk to Me and Barandgrill) and his latest album is called Somewhere Towards Love. Both outstanding. xx

  3. Gee you both sure go to great lenghts to hear the folk you enjoy. Love it! I remember transporting a Joni M book from afar for Mr Sunshine a few years back too.
    Thanks for yet another great morning for me read. I look forward to it every day.

    1. Yip, a devoted Joni fan he is! The journey to the jazz club would normally have been straightforward, but you’re right – we do go to lengths and make a meal of it, don’t we?
      Glad you enjoyed the read! xx

  4. Great post! Oh…I’d give anything to listen to this guy in London. I love jazz and especially live jazz at a club. I had not heard of him, so glad you introduced me. Thanks for a wonderful story that reminded me a little of my former life before little ones. It’s still there, lingering.

  5. Glad it all turned out ok.

    Having to deal with a rowdy drunk can be annoying. We visited downtown Baltimore and on that day at least, I felt like I needed body armor and an armed guard to get through the crowds of folks who were looking for fights.

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