Embraced by punk, pop and new wave, Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp hit big in 1979. The title of his followup album later the same year, I’m the Man, was largely a statement of fact–everyone liked Joe Jackson. He had edginess and energy, but managed to come off as refined rather than raw. Beneath the angry young man was an aspiring Cole Porter, a serious and sophisticated composer and musician.
On Friday, Joe Jackson’s Four-Decade Tour arrived at New York City’s Town Hall for two sold-out shows. As the crowd was still filing in, members of the band took the stage one by one until a lanky figure in a blue suit appeared at the keyboards. The music began to take shape, and with a raucous guitar riff, the band kicked into “One More Time” followed by “Is She Really Going Out With Him.” Long-time fans were immediately transported to younger days, but Jackson wisely chose not to bury himself in nostalgia. “We’re going to play something from each album,” he said, and that included material from his most recent effort, Fool, released late last year. “Big Black Cloud” and “Fabulously Absolute” were the tracks he chose to showcase before returning to the hits. Among the lesser-known works revisited was “Invisible Man” off Rain—“one of my favorite albums,” he said.
It was a homecoming of sorts for Jackson, who settled in New York’s East Village in the early 1980’s but now lives in Berlin. He played at Town Hall six years ago with a band that included a tuba, French horn, and violin, but this year’s stripped-down quartet was built to rock. Long-time collaborator Graham Maby on bass and vocals was an essential part of the sound, with Doug Yowell literally pounding on drums, and Teddy Kumpel on guitar. Crowd-pleasers such as “Sunday Papers,” “I’m the Man”, and “Steppin’ Out” finished off the set and sent everyone home with a pleasant buzz on a warm February night.
Checkout a beautiful gallery of photos below from Friday night’s show courtesy of photographer Lou Montesano.
For a full list of Joe Jackson’s upcoming tour dates and ticketing information, head to his website.