Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

with The Emily Stine Band

City Hall Park, Orlando, Fl • Dec. 29, 2007

I don’t like to leave the house on New Year’s Eve so I celebrated the closing out of 2007 a couple nights early alongside hordes of WMMO 98.9 listeners… oh, and Joan Jett!

Joan Jet

Jen Cray
Joan Jet

About four times a year the local soft rock radio station throws these free shows, part of their Downtown Concert Series. Most often, the artists they score are faded rockstars searching for a paycheck (Loverboy, .38 Special, and Peter Frampton are all former alumni) and so I had never made an effort to attend any of these prior block parties, but when Joan Jett comes to town my schedule suddenly opened up!

Local opener The Emily Stine Band played a couple of short sets while the gathering curiosity seekers wove their way through portable bars and beer stands. In one corner of the park, a large TV was set up where UCF fans could sit to ignore the music and watch their team lose to Mississippi State. It was a mild start to the festivities, and I couldn’t help but remember that the last time I saw Joan Jett she had two show-stopping opening acts warming us up (Riverboat Gamblers and Eagles of Death Metal). As I listened to Emily Stine’s Jett-ian covers of Janis Joplin and Alanis Morissette, I ached for some good ol’ dirty punk rock.

Joan Jett

Jen Cray
Joan Jett

After greeting radio station winners backstage, the smallest (yet most badass) woman in rock ‘n’ roll took the stage with her band of Blackhearts, and kicked right into “Bad Reputation.” It was early — so early in fact that many fans would end up missing most of the show, arriving during the band’s encore at a mere 8:45pm. It may be Saturday night, but soft rock radio listeners need their beauty rest it seems.

Joan Jett

Jen Cray
Joan Jett

The hour-plus set that followed is almost identical to the set she plays most every show. Fan favorites (“I Hate Myself for Loving You,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” and of course “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”) make up the majority of the list, with newer classics (“Fetish,” “Androgynous”) and songs off her latest album (“AC/DC”) slipped in. It should surprise no-one that it’s the old ’80s classics — and her hit with The Runaways, “Cherry Bomb” — that garner the biggest response.

Jett looks incredible, and even when she forgets a line here and there, she just lights up one of those famous smiles and nobody gives a damn that she slipped up. Still, I can’t help but wonder how she feels playing the same songs show after show. She’s got a new greatest hits disc coming out in April (that’ll have some video footage tucked in, as well!), and those songs will never get old, but is she ever tempted to retire those old stand-bys and focus solely on the now? Fans would be pissed, but then the fans aren’t the ones having to live frozen in 1982.

Joan Jett is an icon. She’s one of those musicians who absolutely define rock ‘n’ roll. From her onstage snarl and beat up/stickered guitar (the same one she’s been using for years), to the sweat that rolls down her leather and vinyl outfits — she is one of the last true Rock Stars.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Jen Cray
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Even if she’s playing the same set I’ve seen her play a half dozen times before, I’ll always be there — front row — whenever she comes to town, because she is Joan Jett!

To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com

Joan Jett: www.joanjett.com

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