Joan Jett Talking Stick Resort Friday, July 6, 2012
Joan Jett is one of those musicians whom everybody should see if they get the chance. She's an inspiration to every girl who ever picked up a guitar, pioneering the riot grrl movement before it had a name (she later produced a Bikini Kill album). Jett has continued to rock since she formed The Runaways as a teen. Now, she's still going strong as a 53-year-old.
Joan Jett took the stage with her signature short, black choppy hair, a black tank top, and tight red pants -- a style not too far off from Laura Jane Grace's recent appearance with Against Me!, which isn't surprising as the two recently performed The Replacements' "Androgynous" together.
Accompanied by an all-male backing band dressed like '70s punks, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts delivered racing guitars, sing-alongs, and loads of attitude, even if Jett's vocals were spotty at times. The band opened with "Bad Reputation," which didn't quite sound like the song I know and love from the opening credits of Freaks and Geeks. Her voice lacked gusto, and it sounded like she was just going through the motions (or, let's posit that really doesn't give a damn about her reputation).
Chalk it up to a rough start, because The Runaways' classic "Cherry Bomb" was totally on point. Jett sang it with her signature punk ferocity, even if it was originally Cherie Curie's song. The band played two Runaways songs, peppering "I Love Playing With Fire" into a set that could easily be a tracklisting The Blackhearts' greatest hits.
The median age of the audience was close to Jett's, but they didn't watch the show like middle-aged folk. The crowd stood the whole time and went through all the motions of a rock show: throwing up fists, clapping and singing along. The only thing missing was some moshing and crowd surfing. Who knows, some of that may have actually happened if there weren't any chairs.
Jett kept the stage banter to a minimum, introducing new songs as "self explanatory:" "TMI," "Hard to Grow Up," and "Reality Mentality." Jett's still disillusioned with reality television and adulthood, but the new material is pretty good. There are plenty of catchy hooks and the tunes sound like they could be B-sides to The Blackhearts' classics.
The highlight of the evening was the songs that should have ended up somewhere in the encore, featuring "I Love Rock 'N Roll," "Crimson and Clover," and "I Hate Myself for Loving You" all played back-to-back, encouraging the audience to really let loose and rock out.
Instead of wrapping up with "I Hate Myself For Loving You," Joan Jett and The Blackhearts returned for "Little Liar," which was a little slow for an encore, but things picked up for some Sweet and Sly & the Family Stone covers.
It was a fairly straight forward show, but not a bad way to spend a Friday night. Jett said her thank yous and goodbyes and hinted that the band would be back soon with a "see you later in the year."
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1. Bad Reputation 2. Cherry Bomb 3. Do You Wanna Touch Me 4. Victim of Circumstance 5. I Love Playing With Fire 6. The French Song 7. Love Is Pain 8. TMI 9. Hard to Grow Up 10. Naked 11. Fake Friends 12. Reality Mentality 13. I Love Rock 'N Roll 14. Crimson and Clover (Tommy James & the Shondells cover) 15. I Hate Myself for Loving You
Encore 16. Little Liar 17. ACDC (Sweet cover) 18. Everyday People (Sly & the Family Stone cover)
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Joan Jett and The Blackhearts at Talking Stick Resort. Personal Bias: I saw the group in Tucson last year and the setlist hasn't changed much. The Crowd: "Edgy" moms. Overheard in the Crowd: "I LOVE ROCK AND ROOOOOLL" all night. One More Thing: Sorry about the crappy iPhone picture, I wasn't allowed to bring my fancy camera.