013. Night & Day: Joe Jackson, October 4, 1982

I no longer have my ticket for this concert, so I’m sending a big Thank You to Ms. P for providing me with a copy of hers. I do, however, still have my program (featured below).

013. Night & Day: Joe Jackson, Alumni Hall, UWO, London, Ontario, Canada, Monday October 4, 1982, $9.

Four years after my first visit to Alumni Hall to see Elvis Costello in November 1978, I returned to the same University of Western Ontario venue to see the guy who was often referred to as “The Poor Man’s” EC: Joe Jackson.

He seemed to appear from nowhere in the post-Costello spring of 1979 with Look Sharp! and its enduring big hit, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?,” while sporting one of the classic new wave album covers. Its follow up, I’m The Man, was even better, exploring similar territory as its predecessor but with stronger tunes and a less derivative take on the whole angry new wave man schtick. Both the LP and its titular-track 45 repeated Look Sharp!’s success on the LPs and singles charts here in Canada inside of the year.

Then Jackson started shaking things up. 1980’s Beat Crazy had a more left-field sound and feel, exploring elements of post-punk and more overt reggae rhythms. It also marked the end of the four-piece Joe Jackson Band. Beat Crazy was considerably less successful than the previous albums, while it was my personal favourite of his back in the day.

Shifting gears again, the following year’s Jumpin’ Jive was a collection of faithfully recreated covers of swing and jump songs from the 1940s. For many like myself, Jumpin’ Jive proved to be a valuable history lesson, introducing me to a genre of music that I was largely unfamiliar with. I loved Jumpin’ Jive, although the funny thing is that, at the time, the music covered on it seemed to have originated from a zillion years ago. Now, 30 years after JJ, music of all stripes from the ‘40s is simply part of my regular sonic diet. It seems less distant and foreign to me now than it did in 1981. Odd how that works.

Jackson’s first four LPs: Look Sharp! (1979), I’m the Man (1979), Beat Crazy (1980), and Jumpin’ Jive (1981).

Which brings us to 1982, this tour/concert, and its accompanying album: Jackson’s fifth platter, Night and Day. My recollection is that this LP wasn’t an immediate hit but more of a sleeper. When the October date was announced, there was no doubt I would be going, although I hadn’t yet picked up Night and Day and didn’t have a strong impetus to. I had only heard the emerging single, “Steppin’ Out,” a few times prior to the show and it hadn’t done much for me.

(All further scans and photos by VA)

When I think of what I was listening to during the summer and early fall of 1982, a bunch of titles dance in my brain, such as The Associates’ Sulk, Kate Bush’s The Dreaming, The Clash’s Combat Rock, The Jam’s The Gift, B.E.F.’s Music of Quality and Distinction, Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom, Kid Creole & the Coconuts’ Wise Guy, ABC’s The Lexicon of Love, Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream, and the recently-reissued Velvet Underground & Nico. Or singles such as “Situation” by Yazoo, “Ever So Lonely” by Monsoon, and “Uncertain Smile”/”Perfect” by The The.   In other words, my 7″ and 12″ worlds were largely dominated by various stripes of British pop, rock or patronage. By contrast, “Steppin’ Out” came off more as North American yuppie fodder for me at this point. It struck me as a bit too MOR.

Once again, I went to the show with my musical pals from that time, Le Château and Lady Bump, with all three of us having attended OMD, the Police Picnic II, and The Clash previously that year. I would see Iggy Pop with them later that month, marking an unprecedented five concerts for me within a year — a preview of what was just around the corner, and then some.

I remember picking up LC and LB in advance of the show. LB had spent the previous day and night on an impromptu bender, partying heavily with Count Mara who, as usual, didn’t attend the show. The Bumpster was in rough shape when I swung by to get her at around the dinner hour on a grey fall day. Too much speed and drink; not enough (any?) sleep or food. I think she was trying to talk us out of going as she wasn’t doing too well at that point. Not a chance. I wasn’t about to miss the gig.  Throughout the night I got looks of “I’m dying” from her, but I wasn’t in the mood to be sensitive over someone else’s DTs.

We got there a bit early that night — quite a feat for me as I am perpetually five minutes late for everything, even today. So, as it turned out, we were one of the first to enter Alumni Hall. Its staff had certainly become much more with it in the intervening four years, with the student rent-a-cops noticeably less prevalent and substantially less anal.

Once inside, there were a few people milling around the front of the stage and so we did the same. I headed straight for the centre, in front of Jackson’s microphone, plopped my elbows down and there they stayed for the remainder of the night. Rather than being told to sit in our seats, security left everyone alone as a crowd started to swell around us. This became the first, but far from the last, gig I got to see right from the very front of the stage.

We hadn’t heard anything about an opening band, which was unusual. We expected someone to be warming things up before Jackson. Nope. Pretty much on the dot at 8pm, Joe and his five-piece band began the night (concerts starting on time was also a pretty new concept then, kidlets, and the shape of things to come!).

Let’s play “Spot the Typo in the Bio.” And, oh look, an ad for the long-gone Talbot Inn. Boy, was Mingles ever a meat market. It was usually metal and cheesy cover bands at that point, although I did see Steve Earle and The Gun Club (!) there in the following years (they will be coming up in this series). The Firehall was the small blues club that I did spend many a night in during the mid-to-late ‘80s.

Having just seen The Clash and Talking Heads cut substantially into potential pre-show anticipation. And I wasn’t sure what to expect, given his recent genre-hopping. Weeeell ….. let me tell ‘ya, were we ever in for a surprise. This turned out to be one of my first experiences, along with the Talking Heads in 1980, wherein the resulting show was several leagues beyond anything I had been expecting. Without question, this was a five-star concert. And we later figured out why there was no opener: Joe and the gang played for nearly three hours.

Three key things stick out in my mind about this night, the first two being the band and the performance of the material from Night and Day. It was quite a novel line-up in that there was no guitar player. In terms of anyone familiar, bassist Graham Maby was the only holdover from the original Joe Jackson Band. The remaining four played a variety of percussion and keyboards. I was particularly impressed with multi-instrumentalist Sue Hadjopoulos. She was a brilliant musician, had a real presence, and I spent a big chunk of the night really focussing on her.

I did indeed take in my ticket to Sam’s to get a dollar off the album. Now I wished I’d simply kept the damn thing. Note the Music Mann Bus Tours Ad at the bottom … how could I have missed Liberace?! I must give myself a thorough chastisement.

As it turns out, Jackson had been living in New York City and was influenced by a lot of the Latin-based music he was hearing there. The songs on Night and Day represented a more sophisticated approach than what was present on his previous work. Even though I had not yet heard the album save “Steppin’ Out,” the material from N&D impressed me the most and has lingered long in my mind’s eye from that night. I could see that he was mining some of the same territory as Kid Creole & the Coconuts albeit in a less comic manner.

After opening with a terrific “On the Radio” from I’m the Man, Jackson and crew went right into “Another World,” literally and figuratively, from Night and Day. Over the course of the evening, the new LP ended up being performed in its entirety. A spiky “T.V. Age,” a lengthy “A Slow Song” with prologue, and an affecting “Breaking Us In Two” made their mark. “Steppin’ Out” suddenly seemed 200% better to me when delivered live with this terrific band. But the highlight of the entire evening for me was an elongated “Cancer,” featuring some brilliant interaction among the band, with Hadjopoulos’ playing a particular treat.

THIS is what I remember. A superb rendition of “Cancer” from Night and Day, live in Germany, 1982.

Unsurprisingly, this skilled collective deftly pulled off a wonderful version of “Tuxedo Junction” which Jackson had recorded on Jumpin’ Jive as well as a blast of an unexpected, late-in-the-night Motown Medley, well before seemingly everyone was doing that kind of thing in the ‘80s.

Also surprising was how well his earlier, often guitar-based music came off in this re-arranged milieu, particularly “Sunday Papers,” “I’m The Man,” “Beat Crazy,” and, of course, “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”

“Another World” from Night and Day, live on SNL, during the same month when I saw him live, October 1982.

Then there is the third thing that jumps out for me from this evening and that’s Joe Jackson himself: what a curmudgeon! He seemed enraptured when performing and proper ornery during the spaces in between. He was perturbed when audiences responded at undirected times or in degrees that he felt disproportionate or insincere. He gave a tongue lashing to some loud rapscallions in the crowd about clapping thoughtlessly and too often. “Only clap when you’re truly impressed,” he directed. Of course, that triggered a whole new round of applause. Jackson responded with an expression so pained that you would’ve swore he was recalling some horrific memory — such as the news of his pet, Noodles the puppy, getting run over — as opposed to, say, the crowd bringing the love and the joy.

He got his knickers in a right twist when some highly exuberant persons dared to interject during his long, but effective, introduction to “A Slow Song,” once again going all misanthropic on our asses. Yipes.

I got to bask in that dark glow of curmudgeonness from just a few feet away. Of course I enjoyed the absurdity of it all, too. I am sometimes entertained by the darnedest things.

Joe Jackson The Musician easily won out over the Lord Grumpypants parts. We left with our sprits soaring after such a terrific surprise of an evening, and also because we got to see it right from the front of the stage.

I went out on the following day to purchase the album, inspired to do so by the show the night before. And was disappointed.

The rich warmth and nuances of the live performance were absent, replaced by a stiff coldness in its stead. No wonder “Steppin’ Out” sounded so much better live vs when I had heard it on the radio. I wouldn’t say that I disliked Night and Day but, heard immediately after its live counterpart, it really came off as underdeveloped, overproduced and clinical. At that time, the difference between the record and what I had heard live turned out to be like the difference between night and day!

Because I had that less-than-24-hour comparison burned in my brain, I didn’t play Night and Day too often. I long ago fully began to appreciate “Steppin’ Out” as terrific pop and, after not having heard N&D in a couple of decades, I recently threw on the vinyl a few times. With that show/album benchmark now patchy and gauzy, the record as a whole sounds better than remembered, although I still feel it’s a little over-refined in parts. Little did I know that there was going to be a lot of that happening production-wise as the ‘80s progressed. Sadly.

This also marked another first-time experience for me: an album sounding comparatively weak following a corresponding live performance. It’ll be happening down the road again for me with artists such as PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth. I’ll get there in time.

 

Night and Day of course went on to great commercial success, which was just starting to break wide open around this point. For me, it turned out to be a swan song. Follow-up Body and Soul was like a jazzier Night and Day, minus the tunes. 1986’s Big World had a great gimmick in it being a three-sided vinyl album (not a nod to Second Winter, I gather) but I found the songs rote. The album was recorded live in a theatre in front of an audience so that the band could have a crowd to play off of. However, the concert-goers were told that they must remain completely silent. Damn, recording that album must have been a dream come true for Jackson.

He then moved into a more symphonic vein and after that I haven‘t heard much. I know that he has done some pop recordings too — including a Night and Day II — but I’m not familiar with them. Remembering this concert does have me curious about seeking out N&D II. Anyone out there familiar with it?

In terms of what I do know … My opinion on the best thing Joe Jackson ever did? This concert.

Hey A&M Records or whoever would be pertinent: Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Night and Day‘s release. How about a proper deluxe edition? Not the half-assed one that came out on the market a while back. I’m thinking more Bowie’s recent Station To Station reissue: the original album and then a complete concert from the tour on two additional discs. Perhaps a DVD. Hint hint.

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Next On Stage –> PLEASE NOTE: I have a deeper backlog of posts over on my Open Salon blog.  I will now be simultaneously cross-posting here on WordPress in tandem with my OS blog, beginning with this series on the 2011 Ottawa Jazz Festival.  Meanwhile, I will also continue the process of republishing my previous OS pieces here as well, alternating between the past and the present, starting with …

160. The Rain Song: Robert Plant & the Band of Joy with Bahamas, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday June 23, 2011.

… and will soon be going back in time with …

 014. Gimme Danger: Iggy Pop with Nash the Slash, Wonderland Gardens, London, Ontario, Canada, Wednesday, October 27, 1982 — featuring guest contributor M. Zeppelin on the topic of some spirited social interactions with Iggy and his band.

© 2011 VariousArtists

Comments From Original OpenSalon.com Posting

Just a quick comment-I’ll be back later. I’ve subscribed to your wordpress blog. Love Joe Jackson’s chord progressions.
 
I don’t think Joe got as much press as he should have. Nice tribute here!
 
I’ll subscribe to your wordpress too. Man you’re a great writer…
 
You amaze me each time you post. Nothing but hard well researched work that brings back memories.
rated with gold star hugs
 
I was kind of embarassed for liking his first lp, for that reason you pointed out that he was the poor mans EC. In hindsight that was pretty dumb. Maybe..
I liked Night and Day at the time, but then again, Steely Dan is one of my favorite things. I’ll have to go back and listen to it again.
As always, very nicely done!
 
I love going to concerts with you retro-actively, VA. I liked Joe J. from the get-go, and followed him thru Night & Day…in fact he lived right around the corner from me in the city (west of SoHo). First time I saw him I was surprised how tall he was. (Being the “cool” New Yorker that I was, I acted un-fazed. Good thing, if he had gone all curmudgeonly on me 🙂 I moved to Brooklyn in ’86 and lost sight of him and my early 80s sensibilities. But I do recall, as you said, how he introduced me to some zoot-suited music that I continue to love. Thanks for reminding me of some great stuff. (r)
 

lschmoopie: Thanks for subscribing. Chord-wise, and otherwise, I think Night and Day was his best.

Algis: He actually did pretty good at the time, press-wise, but I think he wanted to keep a lower profile post-80s and he hasn’t been written about as much since. And thanks.

ChillerPop: You’re very kind and I’m glad you are enjoying. Trust me, there’s plenty more …

Linda: Merci, Linda. As for the work part, well you turn out one a day so you sure have me beat. As for memories, seeing that Sam’s logo above “Canada’s Largest and Best Known Record Store” is bittersweet for me.

Yserba: As you have probably seen in this series, I was a major Costello fan back in the day, but still really liked Joe too. With Night & Day, I have enjoyed having it on but, as with a number of albums from the ’80s, I feel like I want to get hold of the Master Tapes and remix it. Make it a bit looser, warmer. And, Yserba, you are talking to a massive Steely Dan fan here. Glad you enjoyed. And Iggy’s up next!

dirndl: Your welcome and thanks, particularly for the first comment because one of my hoped-for goals in writing this series is to try and impart to someone a sense, feeling or vibe of what being a certain gig was like. That’s a great story about Joe — and its a good thing you avoided the curmudgeonly part. And I see someone else loved Jumpin’ Jive as well.

 
Another great review Various. I loved Look Sharp and Steppin’ Out has never grown old for me. Since I don’t think you mentioned it, I’d like to single out One More Time as one of the Best New Wave offerings. Keep it up.
 
You’re costing me money VA! Each new blog there is another ‘must have’ addition to my music collection while I slap my forward saying, ” WHY don’t I already own this?!”. Loved this in-depth piece on another under-appreciated musician. I know the amount of work it takes to put a post together of this depth and your recall for details from your concert experiences never fails to amaze me. Wandering over to You Tube to listen some more JJ this cloudy Sunday morning while I wait for online order to arrive…
 

Abrawang: One More Time is indeed a great song and I think he might have performed that one on this night. I just recently re-heard it via replaying my vinyl copy of Look Sharp!. It indeed sounded good. I want re-hear Beat Crazy but only have that one on cassette. Time to haul out the cassette player too, I guess. Thanks for stopping by, Abra.

lschmoopie: It’s costing me money as well! Since I began writing this series, I have ended up playing so many old albums and then turned around to buy or order the CDs. And thanks for the acknowledgement for the time invovled, something you know all about with your pieces. They are fun and satisfying to put together and also it’s great to know that people are enjoying them.

 

Never was a huge Joe Jackson fan but I recall dancing my ass off to “Is She Really Gong Out With Him?” & “Sunday Papers” but anyone in their 20’s in the early 80’s probably did the same. The times you describe here are crystal clear and alive in memory.

PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth. Oh yeah.

 
p.s. Thanks for the wordpress link. If OS doesn’t fix this server problem soon, everyone will jump ship. For good.
 
If you think his OS posts are well-researched, you shouldda heard his college radio show “specials”.
 

Scarlett: I don’t know how I have this memory for all these obscure moments from my past, but I do. Just don’t ask me to remember stuff like names, directions, numbers, etc — my brain turns to teflon. And oh yeah, yeah, yeah, PJ Harvey & Sonic Youth. Have you heard PJ’s new disc, “Let England Shake”? I think it may be her best.

MZ: Thanks for the support. Ahh, you remember my radio profiles …

 
Scarlett — and others — re: the wordpress link … not much there now, but I am going to repost everything over there sequentially, with the two blogs dovetailing later in the year. Thought I’d open that up as who knows what will happen to OS.
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6 Comments on “013. Night & Day: Joe Jackson, October 4, 1982”

  1. Saw this concert at Massey Hall in Toronto. Thoroughly enjoyed it, totally endorse your take on the musicianship and the way the band worked together. One guy a couple of rows in front of me must have gone expecting New Wave Fest or something, cuz he just sat there for most of the show with his middle finger raised at Joe. Everyone around him was saying something along the lines of “Hey buddy, you don’t like the music, why don’t you leave?” But he sat there and made sure he spent three hours having a crappy time.

    • Lucky you, getting to see this show at Massey Hall, one of my very favourite venues. Hilarious story, though, about Mr. Middle Finger. Wow, Joe Jackson was out-curmudgeoned at his own show.

      Thanks for stopping by with the great story!

  2. Steve Smythe says:

    Just recently found your blog and I’m really enjoying catching up on bands I’ve enjoyed over the years.
    Saw the Police Picnics 2 & 3 and your concert memories are very similar to mine.
    I also saw Joe Jackson during this tour at the Jock Harty Arena at Queen’s University in Kingston. I agree curmudgeon could be used to describe him but I’m going to say perfectionist. If you thought he got pissy towards the audience you can imagine how irritated he was when a fire alarm went off in the arena. On the bright side, he didn’t play through. He stopped the concert, berated the venue, and chatted with the audience until the problem was resolved.
    I’ve loved Joe Jackson and his music from the late 70s until today. If he’s released music I own it. I’ve seen him in concert 5 times. Loved them all. Different lineups, different styles, always reworking songs. Playing “I’m The Man” with just a tiny amp, his guitar, and his voice. The entire concert of “Heaven and Hell” was just him and 2 ladies with keyboards. He did a virtual greatest hits show followed by the entire “Heaven and Hell” which is a concept album on the seven deadly sins.
    I love the Elvis Costello comparison. Love him, Love Joe a million times more. I’ve always wondered how amazing a collaboration between them would be.

    • Hey Steve, glad you’ve discovered the blog and am enjoying. Thanks for the info on Joe. Admittedly, I’m not as familiar with his later outings so this fills a few things in.

      I am trying to imagine his response to a fire alarm going off, lol. I wonder if he’s chilled out a bit more these days, as many of us do as we go along in life. And that’s cool that we were both at those Police Picnics. Stay tuned, I plan on focussing more on writing about the older shows in the upcoming year.

      • Steve Smythe says:

        I’d say he’s definitely chilled out! The last time I saw him was in Minneapolis as a trio during his Rain tour. Back on stage with Graham Maby and Dave Houghton he seemed relaxed and charming. Of course, that concert, my wife and I had a woman behind us sing through the entire concert so I was the curmudgeon that night!
        By the way, Night and Day II is a fantastic album with a really good continuation of the lonely nightlife feel from the original album…if that makes any sense.

      • That’s interesting that Maby & Houghton are back playing with. I once had one of those audience neighbour sing-a-long experiences at a Neil Young gig, but owing to the circumstances and my twisted sense of humour, it was more funny than anything for me that night. Having said that, if the circumstances hadn’t been right … curmudgeon-ness would have been appropriate.


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