When people think of women of rock their minds immediately go to Joan Jett. Jett, now 55 years old, is aware of this and continues to uphold her title as the one of the most influential female musicians of all time. Twice, she and the Blackhearts have been nominees for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and how she has yet to be selected for induction is shocking. Nobody before or after her arrival in the mid-70’s with The Runaways has carried the punk rock torch that Jett still does to this day.
While most women her age are preoccupied with their mid-life crises or wondering when they are finally going to be grandmothers, Jett is still rocking the power chords and singing about sex, love and hate with an unwillingness to accept her age as a determining factor of what she should be doing at this point in her life. This Pennsylvania native turned New York rocker continues to rock. She still tours with The Blackhearts which are made up of life long producer and songwriting partner Kenny Laguna on keyboard, Acey Slade on bass guitar, Dougie Needles on lead guitar, and Thommy Price on drums.
Bringing her Unvarnished tour to Snoqualmie Casino on a rainy Sunday night to a sold out crowd, Jett entered the stage to Sandy Nelson’s “Let their Be Drums.” She and the band kicked the night into gear with the song “T.M.I.” off of her latest release, Unvarnished. She then launched into a selection of classic crowd pleasers including “Cherry Bomb”, “Do You Wanna Touch” and “Bad Reputation” all with the audience joining in singing the choruses.
Jett delivered the hits over the course of a rapid 80-minute, 18-song set. Much of her set was devoted to new tunes from her last few albums that only the most dedicated of Jett fans have heard. The preponderance of non-classics is a credit to Jett and the fact she’s still writing aggressive, catchy anthems of the love you/hate you/screw you variety. Some of the new tunes “Hard to Grow Up,” “Reality Mentality,” and “TMI” worked really well and compliment the classic tracks of Jett’s music catalog.
If you hadn’t known her age, you would have never guessed Jett to be in her 50’s. Her voice hasn’t aged a day and her physique hasn’t changed a bit in the last three decades! There were a plethora of sexual innuendos in her performance along with the occasional grin, tongue whip and wink. Many of today’s top female artists from Miley to Katy to P!nk are obviously influenced by Jett’s trailblazing music and performance.
The show was definitely too short, but what the fans got was a strong performance. Looking around the crowd, it was clear all aspects of Jett’s fan base were on hand. There were both hipsters and punks who recognize Jett for the pioneering force she is – a woman who started her own label, Blackheart Records, after being rejected by all the majors after pursuing a solo career post-Runaways. There was a large contingent of lesbian fans who recognize her as an icon in their community, and there were a whole lot of classic rock fans who just wanted to hear some of the tastiest American straightforward rock produced by a truly unique voice.
Do You Wanna Touch
Soulmates to Strangers
Make it Back
You Drive Me Wild
Love is Pain
Hard to Grow Up
I Love Rock N Roll
Crimson and Clover
I Hate Myself For Loving You
2013 has been a banner year for my concert photography. I moved to Seattle after three years in San Diego and was determined to make the most of living in one of the greatest music scenes in America. I’ve managed to shoot in almost every venue over the past seven months and have been fortunate enough to shoot some of the most amazing artists including many on my bucket list such as Paul McCartney, Black Sabbath and local favorites, Pearl Jam. Below are my personal favorites from 2013.
These past two weeks have kept me busy at night. 31 concert acts photographed in in just 12 days and now I’m ready for a glass of eggnog and a warm blanket. Back in September I covered Bumbershoot at Seattle Center. One of the groups performing was the legendary Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. Heart has had a pretty awesome 12 months with their performance last December at the Kennedy Center Honors, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a North American tour with Jason Bonham joining them to perform a tasty set of Led Zeppelin tunes. It seems much like the progressive rock trio Rush, they are gaining in popularity these days. One of the best things I did following that Bumbershoot show was reach out to them and send them my images. Lucky for me, they really liked them and used them on their web and social sites as highlight images of the tour. About a week later, they announced that they were going to do a holiday show in Seattle in December. I quickly contacted their publicist to let them know I was very interested in covering the show if they would have me.
Apparently no good deed goes unrewarded as I was informed that I was approved to cover the show earlier this week. Thursday evening, the day of the show, I received a phone call from the producer of the show to discuss my coverage as this was being filmed for television and more importantly, it was taking place at the symphony hall which doesn’t really cater to photographers. No photo pit, no soundboard and no side stage. Oh! Oh! After talking it through with the producer, I was also informed that the band didn’t authorize anyone else to cover this, so I was going to get exclusive coverage of the entire show. In the end, the band gave me a ticketed seat in the center orchestra just a few rows from the stage and as long as I stayed low and out of view of the video cameras, I could roam around the symphony hall at my own will all night.
“Heart & Friends: Home for the Holidays” will air on AXS TV on Dec 25th!
The show began with a couple of cast members from the 5th Avenue Theater production of “Oliver” who moved around the crowded symphony hall.
As the show progressed, Heart brought out a few friends to help perform some holiday selections.
Following a brief intermission, Heart treated the crowd to a more traditional concert set performing many of their popular hits which included a couple of Led Zeppelin covers.
There is something electric about a hometown artist performing for the local crowd. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis brought “The Heist” tour to Seattle to cap off their North American tour Tuesday night. As I experienced with Pearl Jam a week earlier, the Emerald City loves their hometown artists. Macklemore is on fire and his ability to sell out three nights in row at Key Arena is proof of that success.
Fur coats, thrift shop clothes, and even Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson could be found in the packed Key Arena for the first of three nights.
Georgia rock/blues band, the Black Crowes came to Seattle to perform at the Paramount Theater this weekend and I was there to capture the show. Well, at least the first two songs. This shoot was a bit more difficult than the previous night’s Pearl Jam show as the photographers were told to stay out of the actual photo pit so we shot from the crowd in the corners. I managed to get to the center of the crowd for just one moment to get a head on shot of the band but for the most part, I stayed to the left of the stage with my trusty Nikon.
The band opened with a cover of Traffics “Feelin Alright” and followed it up with their 1990 debut single “Jealous Again.” As with any Black Crowes concert, the smell of incense and marijuana filled the theater air but the band put on a heck of a show. Towards the end of the evening they performed a very electric version of “Hard to Handle” which evolved in Deep Purple’s “Hush” and had the crowd going wild.
I’ve been very fortunate to photograph several amazing acts in my first six months living in Seattle, but to be approved to photograph Pearl Jam was the epitome of awesomeness! In the last 23 years I’ve always missed seeing these guys due to one thing or another, but I have been a huge fan since their debut album “Ten” in 1990. When the Cameron Crowe documentary “PJ 20” came out in 2011, I revisited my appreciation for this band and told myself that I had to see them next time they toured. Well, that opportunity presented itself this year for their “Lightning Bolt” tour. I saw the listed cities and noticed Seattle was the final night of the North American tour so I rolled the dice and submitted my request. Luckily, I had a publisher who wanted images and I found out 48 hours before the show that I was approved! Victory!
Well, maybe not….
Things I didn’t take into account were: how many photographers would apply for this gig, the limits imposed by the band, the shooting conditions and the lighting. We had 18 photographers approved, were told we could only shoot extreme left or extreme right of the stage, deal with security who wouldn’t move for the shot, and video camera dollies on tracks that would constantly move whenever something unique was occurring. To add to the fun, the entire first song of three that I had been approved to shoot was back lit with blue light so nobodies faces were visible. The good news, I had a fantastic spot to capture all of the band and my 6’2 frame allowed me to get an advantage overcome the other obstacles.
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