Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Emily Stine.
@ Downtown Orlando. Thursday December 29, 2007.
Review by Kristin Messina.

What show did I go to last night you ask? Well it was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, as part of a local radio station's (WMMO, Soft Rock'n'Roll of Yesterday And Today..)Downtown (Orlando) Concert Series. Those are pretty fun (last time I went was Cheap Trick!), although the parking downtown is a bitch. Its kinda funny. Downtown Orlando has so little going for it, yet they keep building high rise apartments and tearing down needed parking garages. Even street parking is a pain the ass because they tag many good spots as "reserved". Reserved for who? At 11 o'clock at night? How stupid is that!

Anyway, about Joan Jett. We (my fiance Jeffrey and I) got there a little bit after 6pm, Monster energy drinks in hand. The closer we walked towards City Hall the louder it got. I couldn't tell what it was. Jeffrey says, "She doesn't do this song, does she?" referring to a Doors cover. I say, "I can't even tell what it is!". It was opener, Emily Stine, a local rock band, that Jeffrey recalls seeing ages ago at the crap-ola Central Station bar. We had actually emailed her previously asking questions on how she got on the show as the opener, and how we could try to mosey ourselves (Courtneys) on to it as well. She says that you contact this certain person and ask them about it. She also mentioned the strange station request that they play three 45 minute sets with a mix of originals and covers. I guess the radio station knows their audience well because they seemed to devour her cover of Janis Joplin's "Bobby McGee" and her original song "What If I Punched Your Girlfriend?". I usually scratch my head at what people would like and what they would despise. I'm just out of the loop when it comes to what the regular person would like.

After Emily finishes, Jeffrey and I are standing at the edge of where you're allowed to stand, all the space directly in front of the stage is blocked off for "VIP's" (whatever the hell that means) and I guess people who may have won tickets by calling into the radio show. It sucked because there were so many empty seats, probably from winners who decided not to show up. There were cops lurking around to make sure people didn't hop the makeshift fence (although later on a few people did). I was almost to the front of the gates, but there was this one kid in front of me. He was playing his Nintendo DS, with a white earphone plugged into his head so he could hear those Pokemons. At first, I couldn't tell what game it was until I saw that fishing bobber looking thing spin across the screen.

Exhibit A:

I mean, he didn't even look up once! Dammit, give me your spot kid! To make matters worse, he was taller than me! Goddammit I hate being short! (5'2 1/2") They should make it a rule that all short people can go to the front. I can never see anything, or reach anything. What a pain! That kid was probably dragged by his mom whom I think was this creepy lady with short shorts on. Eww. In front of me was this guy with a wife beater and with this goofy looking girl who could have been either his daughter or girlfriend. EWWW. She was also wearing part of Halloween pirate costume. I guess I forget that most people just wear clothes so that they don't go around naked; there's no thought put into it. Gag. Also, even more in the obnoxious department, morons from "VIP" kept bumping into me thinking that the entry way to the good seats was right in front of me. *game show buzzer* Wrong! UGH! Do you even own any Joan Jett/Runaways records? Yuck, I spit on you, yuppie scum!

Well enough of that! Finally at around 7:15 ish, they decide to get the final show going. First they have their DJ's take the stage, and then some Marines "yay, we love the Marines and all the Armed Forces", okay okay keep going. Then they have this girl ("Picked by you!") sing the national anthem in that same style all girls in the past ten years or so have. ("I wanna be Christina Aguilera!" Who's actually a decent singer when she doesn't ruin it by vocalizing oooohhhhh's for like ten hours, A-nnoy-ing! Although that James Brown tribute, "Ain't No Other Man" is a decent little song). Man, WAAYYY too many girls sing in that style, I can't make the distinction.

Afterwards, Joan runs on stage to a silent mic, while they blast "Blitzkrieg Bop" over the speakers so her band had about less than two minutes to do some final set up on stage. Around me, all the middle aged people started bopping their heads, some shouting "hey ho, let's go!". Did the Ramones even think for a second that their little band would ever get so conventional? I remember reading about the Ramones ("An American Band" by Jim Bessman "Lobotomy" by Dee Dee and "Please Kill Me" by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain especially) and how hard it was for people to like them at a first listen. My, things have changed.

So finally, Joan plays. Yay! I forget what song she played first. I thought about jotting down the setlist, but eh, then I wouldn't have been able to totally focus on what I could see of the show. I know she played the Runaways hit, "Cherry Bomb" which is strange to hear her sing since it was originally sung by Cherrie Currie who has this weird deep voice. Joan's voice sounded amazing. It's aged that's for sure, but in the best way. She sounded tough and hoarse, and was able to carry tunes with no trouble and no thinning out. I always get a little depressed when I see my heroes take the stage (Seeing Brian Wilson a few years ago with my mom is one example, still a great show though) after all this time and their voices have weakened as the years have gone by, brought on by health problems or drug problems I'm sure. I couldn't help but compare Joan's voice to that of early Lulu which I would have never thought in a million years that either had anything to do with one another. I'd look off stage and definitely could picture it.

I was far away, so I couldn't really make out any kind of detail, or facial feature, but from what I could see, Joan looked pretty great for someone approaching 50. She hasn't really aged a whole lot and has grown back her black hair (I was expecting the short bleach blonde Susan Powter diet guru look).

She played the hits (mostly in a row), "Bad Reputation" which was slowed down a bit, "I Hate Myself For Loving You" (which sounds just like this other 80's hit, I can't remember the name offhand) "I Love Rock'n'Roll" (the Arrows), "Crimson And Clover" (Tommy James & the Shondells) and "Do You Wanna Touch Me?" (Gary Glitter) among others. She also plowed through some promising new songs off her "Sinner" album, including some more covers. I never really thought about it, the amount of covers she does in her catalog. I think its because she plays them in her own unique style, make them her own. But, the two new covers are the filthy "AC/DC" by the Sweet and "Androgynous" by the Replacements. I was taken aback by the Replacements cover because I was just listening to "Let It Be" last week. What a co-inky-dink. She covered that (in which the original is more of a somber, piano solo) in the style of another Replacements/Paul Westerberg song, "If Only You Were Lonely". How odd. Very good covers indeed.

They exited the stage and came back within a minute to play a few more. Why do all bands do that? Can anyone explain that? Does that trick still work? I guess it does because people always scream "MORE!!" or sometimes even "ENCORE", the latter not so much. So they came back on stage and at some point during the night, I forget when, she introduced the group. I'd have to check on the other guys, although Jeffrey says that the bass player was original, but I was shocked when I heard Kenny Laguna. He worked on the "Bad Reputation" LP which came out in 1980! A lot of times, band members get lost along the way, especially in almost 28 years, but not in this case. Its hard to find bandmates that compatible. It was pretty neet.

So that was the Joan Jett show. The set clocked in at maybe an hour and 15 minutes, not too bad. We found the merch booth, after filing through people and avoiding stepping on the plastic beer bottles (those are so odd!). We bought a baseball sleeve shirt (only $20, I was surprised, and its an American Apparel shirt, nice!) and a sticker for $2. Good prices, Joan! Usually mainstream merch is insanely expensive.

Well anyway, that's my concert adventure this time. Check out Joan Jett's MySpace page and listen to some of her new songs. I haven't heard the recorded versions myself just yet. So until next time, I gotta watch Sunday Morning.

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