The posters promised ‘An evening mass with The Divinyls and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts’. This referred to the recently completed tour which paired said bands for a gruelling schedule of thirty one dates in just under six weeks, covering five states. To witness Joan Jett saunter into the spotlight, plug in, aim a deftly put slag stage left and belt into her set is the nearest I’ve been to a ‘religious experience’.
Some would have you think Joan Jett and The Blackhearts to be a little on the dated side, but, like The Beatles, The Stooges and good whisky, mere time does not weary our Joanie. A Runaway at fifteen, number one globally with ‘I Love Rock n Roll’ at twenty two (after being rejected by no less than 23 major and indie labels) she’s now in her mid-thirties and ten albums into her Blackhearts career. Accolades such as ‘trailblazer’, ‘original’ and ‘inspiration’ fit like a glove. She is rock n roll in its purest form.
The brutally poignant ‘Spinster’, a tune from the Blackhearts latest and best LP ‘Pure And Simple’, begins the sixty minute bracket. ‘Cherry Bomb’, The Runaways teenage anthem penned back in those mythical days by Joan and mad svengali Kim Fowley, bumps up the room temperature considerably.
‘Light Of Day’, a song written by Bruce Springsteen specifically for Joan and the movie of the same name goes down a treat. Thommy Price’s peerless drumming adds bulk muscle to the live version of ‘Love Is Pain’, a feature of the Blackhearts’ set since day one and God forbid that they ever drop it. Joan invites, and receives, maximum audience participation for Gary Glitter’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch (Oh Yeah)’ and smiles and good vibes abound. ‘Rubber And Glue’, a wild foray into aggression territory, co-written by Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, reigns in any slack before Joan sheds her Gibson and pulls off a stunning version of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. ‘I Love Rock n Roll’ brings the house down and Joan appears genuinely floored by the crowd’s spontaneous homage.
‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’, very much an unknown quantity to Australian audiences but a U.S top ten hit in 1988, winds things up on a big note. An encore is demanded and ‘Bad Reputation’, Joanie’s theme song if you like, says it all louder – in case anyone’s missed the point.
This tour was a just reward for all the Jettheads who have waited patiently since ’82 for Joan’s second visit to these shores. Let’s hope it’s not thirteen years until the next tour.
The messiah is a woman and her name is Joan Jett.
* Joan Jett set list from Revesby 1995