Concert Review: Joe Jackson

Jackson mixed in songs from his highly successful tribute to Cole Porter, along with tributes to David Bowie and Duke Ellington.

Joe Jackson 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy )
Joe Jackson 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Joe Jackson Tel Aviv Port July 2 It was almost 30 years ago to this day that I last heard Joe Jackson live in concert at a cozy venue in Syracuse, NY. Part of the 1979 "Look Sharp" tour, the evening still resonates in my mind due to the intensity of both Jackson's performance and the volume of the sound system - it took more than two days for my hearing to get back to normal. So it was with a bit of nostalgia and audible trepidation that I attended Jackson's gig on Thursday night at the Tel Aviv Port. Marking his second appearance to Israel in a little more than one year, which Jackson remarked was even a surprise to him, he treated the audience of primarily 40-somethings and beyond to a musical journey that truly stands out in this generation. The piano virtuoso, who as a teenager studied at London's Royal Academy of Music, performed several pieces from his latest work, Rain - an album that underscores Jackson's versatility and artistry. From the melancholy "Solo (So Low)" featuring a brilliant classical piano solo and riveting vocals, through the jazzy "The Uptown Train," to the old-fashioned rock sounds of "Citizen Sane" and "Good Bad Boy," Jackson displayed the passion, creativity and boldness that have been his trademark since day one. Jackson also mixed in songs from Night and Day, his highly successful tribute to Cole Porter and New York, Body and Soul and Volume 4, along with tributes to two of his musical heroes, David Bowie and Duke Ellington. And for those who identify Jackson with his initial persona - a member of a cadre of angry British singer-songwriters of the late 1970s - the musician didn't disappoint. Accompanied by two original members of his band - Graham Maby on bass and David Houghton on drums - Jackson offered up several songs from Look Sharp!, including his first hit, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?," and "On Your Radio" from I'm the Man. While Jackson's 21st-century versions of these tunes don't maintain the same heavy-hitting edge as when he embarked on what has evolved into a unique professional career, at least one member of the audience appreciated that his hearing was still fully intact right after the show.