A man looks around and sits at the piano.
“What the hell is wrong with you tonight”. And I cry a little.
We are at the Palladium on a Saturday night. We have had cocktails at the Prison Bar and we have excellent seats and we are watching Joe Jackson.
My mother first heard “Its different for girls” on the radio in 1979. She thought it sounded great. She imagined the voice belonged to someone dark tortured and wiry .Sorry to disappoint mama, this angelic soul comes from a chain-smoking white boy Joe from Portsmouth.
Quite a long time later, the voice is the same, he has grown into his looks, he Looks Sharp, and maybe due to the law, he isn’t sparking up on stage.
Comfortable in his skin, unfased by the middle-aged fandom in the theatre, he lets us know that he is his own warm up act.
The band join one by one, starting with the bass,
and then lead guitar, who is the spit of Ignatius Riley but a lot more talented.
JJ lets us know the best way to cover a famous track is to do something completely different.
So after telling us he was scared shitless the first time he tackled Joni Mitchell,he gave us a very jolly boogie-woogie take on Big Yellow Taxi along with a darned impressive falsetto.
There is a Portsmouth football scarf hanging off the keyboard, along with a couple of other snazzier silk numbers, i guess for luck and love.
We Wonder Who The Real Men are. We hear tracks from the new album, Fast Forward, familiar yet different, including a song about coming to a big city from the sticks which resonates with nearly everyone except the two of us, born and bred Londoners.
The band rock “What You Want” and the happy but tame audience don’t quite get up off their seats, but we are all very excited all the same. The atmosphere is charged and charmed.
The cover version du jour, apparently random, picked out of a hat, is “Scary Monsters”.
A really fun version, but interesting that Jackson takes on the Laughing Gnome accent for this one, very chiirpy chappy. Portsmouth, New York, Berlin, Bromley.
It was “Nineteen seventy fucking nine” when the first album launched to great acclaim, and we celebrated this fact with Stepping Out. It all gets very muso for The Blue Time, another great new song
As a major fan of Television back in the day, he gives us a blistering cover of “See No Evil”. All is good.
Comes the end, off stage for I am guessing a quick fag, and then back with a bang.
.“Slow Song” makes me cry a little, again.
In a perfect piece of symmetry, the band leave as they came.
Joe Jackson thanks us for coming and tells us that “With you it wouldn’t be the same”. Oops, he corrects himself. Without us it wouldn’t have been the same. Which is nice.
He stands and looks out the the stalls, the circle, the boxes. The expression on his face say it all. Saturday night at the London Palladium. Being adored. What is not to love.