Last week, we, reporters of local artists primarily, were sent down the always challenging steps of the Cafe Du Nord to cover Brooklyn's Fiery Furnaces. Why? Because it was an event that sent a charge through the locals. It meant something to us.

Last night's capacity crowd here greeted Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman, with no less loyal, loving enthusiasm - and rightly so. It was a transcendent, ecstatic celebration of one of the true greats of our time - and we do not throw these terms around casually.

Joan as Police Woman - "The Magic"

Joan played here two years ago in support of her album, To Survive, with only drummer and backing vocalist, Parker Kindred. She put her songwriting, signing and playing up front and it bested her multi-layered studio versions in many ways.

So we were cautious about expecting such a revelation this time. Not to fear. Returning with Kindred and keyboard, Moog bass player and third vocalist Tyler Wood, Wasser once again transported a devoted and grooving throng with her - really - jaw-dropping skills and artistry. Like all the great singers, she gives and loses herself totally in each song.

She is also a natural with the crowd, welcoming shouted conversation and sharing the process of music making. This was the second to last night of Joan's long tour behind her newest album, The Deep Field, and she showered San Francisco with gratitude for our hospitality and affection. It was basically a love fest.

That is plenty of words to devote - in vain - to conveying what a rare gem Joan as Police Woman is. Hopefully these pictures will help get it across. You owe it to yourself to check out all of her records.

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