By Thom Jennings
Niagara Gazette — Like the Ramones, the music of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is short and straight to the point. Jett and her Blackhearts set only lasted one hour and 15 minutes, but in that time she was able to pack in solid versions of 17 songs, including a few old ones and few new ones thrown in for good measure.
Jett strolled onstage at 8 p.m. clad in tight leather and sporting an appreciative grin before breaking into “Bad Reputation.” The crowd was an interesting mix of old and young fans; all dancing to the power chords and throwing appreciative fists of joy in the air from the moment Jett took the stage.
In spite of Jett’s self-proclaimed “bad reputation,” she knows how to connect with a crowd on a personal level. In between songs Jett reminisced about her tenure in The Runaways, and dedicated a fantastic new song, “Make it Back” to all the communities impacted by natural disasters.
The Joan Jett I expected to see was the rocker that rolled through her catalogue with reckless abandon, but happily, Jett paced the show in way that allowed each song to sink in. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Jett still tunes onstage, and in many ways, it makes the show seem more real.
Jett also took the time to give a fan a guitar pick, laying down on the stage so she could reach past the barrier. “That wasn’t graceful,” she said chuckling, but it was gracious.
Musically the band sounded very polished, plowing through power chords with ease while prancing around the stage. Most fans attend these shows expecting to hear the big hits and Jett saved the best part of her catalogue for the end of the show.
It started with “I Love Rock and Roll,” a song that brought the venue alive and sent some fans into a mild frenzy. Jett quickly followed with “Crimson and Clover,” complete with a crowd sing-along, and then closed the set with “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”
In some ways it’s surprising that Jett doesn’t chose to end the evening with “I Love Rock and Roll,” and yet live, “I Hate Myself for Loving You” is a much better closer. During the song, Jett had the entire audience clapping along, keeping time.
For her encores Jett played Sweet’s “AC/DC” a great song from a band that never achieved the level of fame they should have. For her final number there was a surprising version of Sly and the Family Stones “Everyday People.” It’s a song that Jett should not be able to pull off, but she did, and made it all her own.
One should expect a great performance from Joan Jett, after all, she has been in the music business since her teens, and she got where she is with a lot of hard work and winning over crowds with her high-spirited performances.
The show could have been a little longer, but what fans got was quality over quantity.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for the Niagara Gazette.