I bitch like a Hush-Puppy without a Milkbone, but here's my point: Joan Jett was totally worth it! It's 2004 and she looks, sounds, plays and sings better than ever, and you can take that from a guy who saw her in Concert twice, once in the late 80's and once in the Early Nineties! If anything, Joan Jett has improved with Age, and is able to deliver one of the best rock shows out there.
Picture this, I (and Frank Harvey) arrived at Summerfest Brea in anticipation of something similar to Jett's previous tours. After a few minutes of waiting (yes, this seat is saved) the sound check began.
Strangely, after this preview there actually was an opening band... The Bone Daddies! Let me tell you, there's nothing wrong with the Bone Daddies, but I haven't seen such a musical mismatch since Dave Grusin scored Sydney Pollack's The Firm! Billed as "World Music", the Bone Daddies (or is it... bonedaddies?) owe more to a sort of ska-inflected blues rock with enough percussion and Sax to round out the bill. The elements of "World Music" were there (especially in the lead guitarist's moo-moo), but the overall feel of the Bone Daddies reminds one of Charlie Musselwhite and his Continental Drifters. Were they any good! Oh, yeah. Consisting of a Sax Player, two guitarists, a lead singer, a drummer and an all-purpose percussionist, these guys delivered the goods.
After more waiting, more requests for charitable donations, and (for me) an endless river of middle-aged asses in too-tight Wranglers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts came to the stage with a Scream worthy of Roger Daltrey! She covered all of the bases with her patented style of Punk and Rock-a-Billy influenced Hard Rock sweeping over the crowd like the ubiquitous Flood Lights of the stage! What was really striking is the raw energy and passion that went into Jett's music as if not a moment had gone by since 1981's "I Love Rock N' Roll"! What was more amazing than that is that Jett's voice has never sounded better, nor has her guitar been more versatile and strong!
Whoa, nelly did she succeed! Opening with the Intense Rocker "Cherry Bomb" Jett got the crowd into the music and had them shouting the lyrics along with her (something she didn't settle for less than Sonic on Gary Glitter's "Do you want to Touch Me (Oh Yeah)"). Naturally, like Peter Frampton two days before, Joan has a few numbers that can't be dispensed with.
No one does Covers quite like Joan Jett, and some of the best Concert Staples out there are songs that she's made her own. From Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover"'s tear jerking to Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People"'s message she had it nailed. A few more expected covers (like Jerry Lee Lewis' "Wild One") paved the way for a few surprises. Sure "Roadrunner" is a staple of hers, but the purely heavy metal version of the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a welcome surprise laugh and her excellent rendition of The Rocky Horror Show's "Science Fiction Double Feature" (both parts) was just perfect fun!
Here's the thing, though: while her concert repertoire was well handled, Joan Jett is by no means living in the past! Throwing on a number of great songs from her last few albums made me wonder why she's not still at the Chart Top! "Androgynous" is an excellent little ballad where Jett sets herself up as the Mr. Rogers of the kid cross-dressers! "Rubber & Glue" is a big F-You to, well, you name it! The songs from her upcoming album Naked are the show-stealers here, though! "Naked" is a beautiful heavy song, and "Right in the Middle" has to be heard to be believed.
The shame here is that there aren't any Jett Live albums to capture the incredible energy. There's one from her old band "The Runaways", and one as a guest with "the Gits", but there are no real showcases for her live Talent. With her raw and raucous voice who needs a studio? Even her best albums sound a little overproduced compared to her purity on stage, and it's time that got captured. Occasionally there are some Live Tracks added as Bonuses to the end of a CD! Buy those, or better yet, run, don't walk, to the next tour date when you hear she's coming! You'll be hard pressed to find a better rock show! YYYYY
Put away your pre-conceived notions and forget what you think you know about Joan Jett and the Blackhearts from New York City... and just go see them! They look and sound great, and for those of you who think that only men get sexier with age... I give you Miss Joan Jett! Five Stars out of Five for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, coupled with Three Stars for the Bone Daddies makes this a solid Four Star out of Five evening! And that's pretty damned good. If you want to see a purely classic hard rocker that is, right this minute, In Her Prime, might I recommend Joan Jett?
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Dear Joan... I wanna see you NAKED!