013. Night & Day: Joe Jackson, October 4, 1982Posted: August 20, 2011
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.
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 …
… 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.
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