Joe Jackson Band – Live

Music Reviews Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson Band – Live

ANAHEIM, CA – Joe Jackson opened his House of Blues concert alone, seated at a piano and singing “Steppin’ Out,” which was a top-10 hit from the singer’s commercially successful Night and Day album. But the three members of the Joe Jackson Band joined him next for “One More Time” (the opening track on Look Sharp!, the group’s debut), and this hyper-new-wave number neatly foreshadowed the evening’s generally upbeat musical direction.

Jackson had stated that his band would never perform together again, but just as hell froze over for The Eagles (and many other contentious acts), here was the Joe Jackson Band as a unit once again. And a fine unit, at that. From the get-go, Graham Maby’s bass lines wandered freely up and down the musical scale, Dave Houghton was steady at the drums and Gary Sanford jumped often with delight while adding crisp notes to the mix. Jackson himself appeared to be equally energized, as he switched between sitting at the keys, and standing at a microphone – sometimes even alternating mid-song.

If you treasure Joe Jackson’s first couple of albums the way you still dig Elvis Costello’s initial musical steps, this would’ve been a perfect night for you. Along the way, the group played “Sunday Papers,” “Is She Really Going Out With Him,” “Look Sharp!” (as an encore) and “Got The Time” (as the show closer), all from just the Look Sharp! album alone. They also took “On Your Radio” and the title track from I’m The Man, Jackson’s second album.

You wouldn’t imagine Jackson being too big on nostalgia, which is perhaps why the reformed band also played a few songs from its reunion album, entitled “Volume 4.” The best of these newies turned out to be a fun and rocking glam-rock tribute called “Little Bit Stupid.” But “Awkward Age,” “Fairy Dust” and the lovely ballad “Love at First Light” were also drawn from this latest work, and stood up well next to the older material.

Jackson earned the reputation of being an angry young man back during his early days, but he was anything but rude or angry this night. He appeared to be genuinely thankful, in fact, for this packed house’s enthusiastic response to both his old and new music. While he spoke little, he did take a moment to call his lone cover (“Girl,” originally by The Beatles) this night’s “Cover Version De Jour.” He sang it with undeniable sweetness and care, just like the not-so-angry-middle-aged-man he has become.

This return of the Joe Jackson Band was a touring encore well worth a flick of the ole Bic.

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