I donít know who was more excited for this gig - Joe Jackson or me. At 10:01, this guy sprints out on stage wearing dark green tuxedo tails and a white button down with the biggest grin on his face - like this could have been his first ever talent show. He smiled, said hello and introduced, one by one, his band as they came out. This wasnít just any band, but the original Joe Jackson band; Graham Maby on bass, Gary Sanford on guitar and Dave Houghton on drums. Joe then said ìAnd I ëm Joe.î Not a second more was wasted and they went right into the opening notes of what else - ìOne More Timeî - the first track off the Look Sharp album. Within seconds, five cell phones are up in the air bringing this magical moment to many more folks who unfortunately could not attend. Me, well, sure my cell phone was up in the air too, but I was also transported back in time to where I was when I first heard this classic record and this great song. I was also simply basking in the brilliance of the grooves this guy was bringing and has brought to us for over 20 years.
Joe looked incredible and sounded as good I could have ever hoped. He said he wasnít feeling that good as he sipped his tall silver mug of tea in between songs. The set consisted of many new tunes off his new album Volume 4. ìAwkward Age,î ìStill Alive,î ìFairy Dustî and one of the most beautiful tunes I have ever heard and again, proving to me the brilliance of this songwriter; ìLove at First Light.î This tune deals with the morning after and the uncertainty of it. The lyrics are so fucking honest and on point that I was taken to the place he was singing about and this was my very first time hearing this tune.
The piano was in the center of the front of the stage and Joe would strategically jump on and off it during songs - sometimes sitting down to play only a few notes then jumping right back up and singing with just the mic - many times just looking at the piano like it was his lover and waiting for the right time to tackle that thing (think Stewart Copeland as he would look at his little splash cymbal about five seconds before he would hit it). This was theatre and I loved it !!! Other times, of course, Joe played the entire song on the keys and sounded as perfect and as clear as the beautiful composer we know him to be.
Of course we got the classics including ìFools In Love,î ìOn the Radioî and ìSunday Papers.î During ìIs She Really Going Out With Him,î the crowd sang the part ìsomethingís going on around hereÖ..hereÖ..somethingís going on around hereÖî Joe was so impressed that he smiled, turned the mic towards us and then turned his back to us. All he did was pick up the maracas and let us sing the tune out. Joe also picked up the melodica on many tunes looking like Donald Fagen and the instrument brilliantly added some beautiful texture to these classic tunes.
The band walked off for a bit and Joe played solo on the piano. Before he started, we screamed some requests - myself and another screamed for ìSlow Songî (one of my favorites - simply brilliant - Joe pleading for that slow song for him and his lover to dance to but the DJs insist on playing all this crap; ìwhy is it always what he playsÖî) Joe smiled and said that he wasnít taking requests. He said he was going to do a cover of Tori Amos doing a cover of his tune ìReal Men.î Another gem - this sounded incredibly pleasant. Tori changed one verse and Joe did honor her version as he said he would. The song was incredible and just as powerful as it was when it first was written in 1982. The sixth verse unfortunately was all too relevant in these times and it rang so true; ìMan makes a gun..man goes to war..î You could feel the power of this and it was truly sad. Then - onto another classic - played on the piano alone, ìSteppiní Out.î Another five cell phones popped in the air. How can you not think of this great city during that tune (remember the video? The traffic lights on Park Ave. changing in sync with the music! Amazing!) Then the surprise of the evening. Joe said he never really does covers - but tonight he was going to one - by John Lennon. Holy shit - not a bad choice of an artist to cover. What tune would you think? Because I am the biggest Lennon fan and I would have never guessed this - ìGirlî off of Rubber Soul. Magical is an understatement of this moment. It was raining genius. Now, it was time for the band to come out again as Joe went into ìItís Different for Girls.î So good. For all you fans - yes, this tune was incredible live. Joe ran through a few more new tunes and then wrapped it up with ìGot The Time.î
How can I not comment on this band? They are the backbone of that classic sound we know from Joeís early records. These guys are it. Their musicianship, talent, energy on stage and please, donít forget about the harmonies. Sure, Graham is great on bass, but that dude has pipes! And his turquoise bass was delicious.
The encore was unforgiving as you would suspect - ìLook Sharpî and ìIím The Man.î We were simply blown away. These guys gave it 100% and then some. All of them jumping around the entire gig and not missing a beat or a note and sounding better than ever.
Joe goes back to Europe for where most of this tour will happen but he said he might come back to the States in August, and where else would he play again but NYC! (Amen)
This was the perfect show !!! Other highlights: being in Irving Plaza with no cigarette smoke! (Thank you, the shower is now eliminated at the end of the evening.) And another lovely highlight: there was this cocktail waitress there who would not accept your drink order unless you said "please." It was wonderful. My friend says, "can we have two waters?" She retorts ìplease!!î and did this to the people next to me. See Jack White, maybe manners are in style again.
ìOne More Timeî
ìTake It Like A Manî
ìFools In Loveî
ìOn Your Radioî
ìIs She Really Going Out With Himî
ìLove at First Lightî
ìGirlî by John Lennon
ìItís Different for Girlsî
ìLittle Bit Stupidî
ìGot the Timeî
ìIím the Manî