LIVE: Joe Jackson @ The Egg, 10/26/15


Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Tim Mack

The Joe Jackson Time Machine landed at The Egg’s Hart Theatre recently, taking a full house back 30 years for nearly two hours. Jackson’s band sounded freakishly ’80s, especially given the fact that they were backing an artist who has continually looked forward. That’s not a complaint mind you, merely a somewhat stunned observation.

Guitarist Teddy Kumpel, particularly, channeled ‘85 with a guitar rig chock full of effects straight out of the Thompson Twins; and drummer Doug Yowell hit that snare with a big hair ferocity that’s thankfully been left in the past.

But Jackson’s voice and his incredible songs (including Egg entries “You Can’t Get What You Want,” “Another World” and “It’s Different for Girls”) are truly timeless. So, while the early band hits like “Sunday Papers” and the encore of “One More Time” satisfied, so did the newest tracks from his latest album, Fast Forward.

Jackson built the show gracefully, taking the stage by himself as his own opening act. By the time he hit “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” and “Real Men,” longtime bassist Graham Maby had slithered out, followed soon by Kumpel and Yowell. Jackson ran the show from his piano, even when he wasn’t playing — pointing his finger at Maby to signal a break, raising both hands to hail a tight stop and mugging with the audience, too.

The new album was recorded in four cities with a number of different musicians, but the quartet at The Egg brought the songs to full life.

Late in the hit-packed show, which also included a blazing take of Television’s “See No Evil,” a middling solo stride version of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and a reimagined “Stepping Out,” Jackson hit the high point with two numbers from Fast Forward. Played back to back, as they close the record, “Keep on Dreaming” and “Ode to Joy” peeked out from under the nostalgia umbrella, reminding all that Jackson is still a creative machine.

He gave “Dreaming” his best playing, New Orleans-tinged licks that popped off the piano. And his singing took new flight. It’s a pleasure to know that an artist of Jackson’s caliber is able to look both ways, to a glorious past and a bright future.

But Teddy, the ’80s called, and they want their pedals back.

Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union
Tim Mack’s review and photograph at Metroland
Sara Foss’ review at Thinking It Through
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “After singing a ragtime version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ alone on the Egg’s Hart Theater stage Monday night, Joe Jackson talked a little about his latest record. He then played the title track, ‘Fast Forward,’ an odd sort of song with lyrics that sounded more like a newspaper column than his signature rascally, rebellious style. He seemed genuinely committed to making the new song work, but you could feel the packed house collectively hoping for it to end… There seems something unfair about selling out the Egg on the merits of your old stuff, and then using the show to play predominantly new stuff. To be certain, some of the new songs were very good and a certain number of people likely enjoyed it. But it’s more likely that the crowd came to hear his chart-topping music from his ‘Look Sharp’ days, and he knows that, but chose to give them something else—the music he wanted to perform. I suppose that makes him still rebellious after all.”

It’s Different for Girls (solo)
Home Town (solo)
Won’t You Be My Number Two (solo)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell) (solo)
Fast Forward (solo)
Is She Really Going Out With Him? (with Graham Maby)
Real Men (full band for the rest of the show)
You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)
A Little Smile
Kings of the City
If It Wasn’t for You
Another World
Love at First Light
Sunday Papers
See No Evil (Television)
Keep On Dreaming
Ode to Joy
Steppin’ Out
It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) (Duke Ellington)
One More Time
A Slow Song


1 Comment
  1. DM says

    I think the reviewer is assuming because the crowd was older – yeah JJ came out in thee early 80s that they were only there to hear the hits. I doubt it. Anyone that is familiar with JJ knows that he is known to take his own songs and revisit them to new fresh perspectives. The stepping out version was way more heartfelt then the lighthearted original and it appears on a live comp. i was so excited to hear that version and the loyalists were prob glad to hear the other staple hits played almost as the studio takes. So depending on his touring personnel dictates the arrangements. I was excited to hear that band play some of the mellow stuff and rock it up with a four piece. It was brilliant from start to finish. The guitar player was mild and played his accompanying part. So to comment that his pedals were outdated was a stereotypical condescending jab at someone trying to date the music’s heyday era cuz they re younger or “hipper”. His pedalboard was pretty sophisticated. And im telling you old or new it was all A1 .x

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