Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:24 a.m.
While it would be easy to guess that Ms. Joan Jett has joined the masses of geriatric rock and roll groups -- the 10 piece accompaniment band, the bedazzled Nudie-style stage costumes and the pretentious audacity to murder modernized "covers" of their classic tunes -- you would be wrong to do so.
Not only is Ms Jett still killing it live, she sounds more authentic and raw than your friendly neighborhood garage band. Somehow, the Geritol curse has kept its distance from the almost 55-year old godmother of modern rock and roll. She's kept her canon of classic rock songs vital and urgent, which is almost impossible considering Wednesday night she played almost an hour and a half of songs the audience knew by heart. The equation is pretty simple. Guitars plugged straight into amps, drums, bass, and one hell of a voice. Pure rock 'n roll.
The Blackhearts took the stage to the sounds of Sandy Nelson's "Let There be Drums" playing over the PA. It perfectly set the tone for the incoming onslaught of guitars and drums. And with a "One, two, three, four," Jett ripped into "Bad Reputation," and the floor went crazy. She teased the hell out of us all trying to find Lita Ford in the audience (she was there, but never did grace the stage) before launching the Runaway's "Cherry Bomb," a song Jett wrote when she was just 15. She turned the entire venue into singalong. Backup singer of the moment Tommy Price started in on the Gary Glitter drum riff of "Do You Wanna Touch Me."
It would be easy for Jett to speed through an hour of hits and cut out before breaking a sweat. But she tweeted a photo just a few days ago of a test pressing of new vinyl, leading the blogosphere to speculate a new album of material is coming soon. Jett played three unreleased songs last night, something you just don't expect from an act with over 30 years under its belt. Lead Guitarist, Dougie Needles, duck-walked his solos to the edge of the stage, while Jett and bass player, Acey Slade, made sure the crowd was participating and having a good time. Legendary all around rock 'n roll man, Kenny Laguna, held down the back of the stage, playing keyboards and one giant pair of maracas.
It's hard to quantify Jett's contributions to the music world. She has not won a Grammy. Well, the Ramones never won a Grammy either, not a real one. Plenty of rock 'n' roll acts have never won a Grammy. But when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame passes on her every year, you've got to wonder what right 2013 inductees Donna Summers and Public Enemy have being anywhere near Cleveland. Joan Jett bleeds rock 'n' roll. She of the leather jacket, low-slung guitar, and feverish growl deserves to have the Hall of Fame named after her. Or at the very least, a "Joan Jett East Wing" should be built to house and display beat up guitars from rock's heyday. Her white, mid-'60s Gibson Melody Maker, the one she's been playing since 1977 -- the one she played most of last night -- deserves its own pedestal. Front and center.
1. Joan Jett, obviously.
2. Cool Gibson guitars plugged in to Marshall and Vox amps.
3. Hard Rock Live is the perfect venue for a show the size of Joan Jett's.
4. Kenny Laguna is a personal hero of mine, from back in his Tommy James and The Shondells days.
"Do You Wanna Touch Me"
"Victim of Circumstance"
"You Drive Me Wild"
"Make It Back"
"Love Is Pain"
"Hard to Grow Up"
"I Love Rock 'n' Roll"
"Crimson and Clover"
"I Hate Myself For Loving You"
"A Hundred Feet Away"
"Every Day People"