You’ve heard her described as legendary, iconic, a rock and roll goddess and a Queen of Noise. She is none other than the Runaway herself, Joan Jett. Jett, along with her band the Blackhearts and fellow Blackheart Records co-founder, Kenny Laguna, rocked out at the PNE in Vancouver Friday night.
Fans began filling up the floor and bleachers early afternoon for the 8pm show. The early birds were rewarded for their punctuality and pleasantly surprise when Joan Jett herself stepped onto the stage an hour prior to show time to wave to the crowd, and to tweak the sound of her guitar and microphone.
As the sun began to set, the audience got more and more anxious and rowdy. One fan claimed that he has Jett tattooed on his leg, while a handful of others waved around Jett’s 1981 record I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll hoping to score an autograph.
A sombre Jett started the show with a few words. Jett wanted to dedicate this show to her mother, who had passed away the day before. Despite being obviously and understandably distraught, Jett put on a brave face and launched into her first song, “Bad Reputation”. Fans were already in a frenzy when she followed with an explosive rendition of “Cherry Bomb”. Every person in the house was singing along word-for-word.
Jett later described the first song she wrote while in the Runaways called “You Drive Me Wild”, appropriate since the performance drove the fans wild. Other songs performed included “School Days”, “Love is Pain”,” The French Song”, “Backlash”,” Crimson and Clover”, and “Androgynous” – a perfect medley of Jett’s greatest hits and fan favourites.
In mid show beach balls materialized and were tossed around by the rambunctious crowd. And with the first notes of the “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” guitar riff, fans knew what was coming. The song that launched Jett’s solo career with the Blackhearts, the song that sold over a million units, and yes, the song that Britney Spears covered in Crossroads had the whole crowd head-banging and fist-pumping with joy.
For the song, “Do You Wanna Touch”, the audience participated in a sing-along. Jett, who instructed the crowd to breathe deeply and sing loudly, led a sea of screaming voices repeating the phrase, “Yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah” over and over. The show wrapped up with the songs “A.C.D.C”. and “Everyday People”.
By the end of the concert, the merch booth was completely sold out of everything – just an indication of how popular Jett still is after beginning her music career more than thirty years ago with the Runaways. How many artists can say they have half the longevity of this music idol?
For older fans, this show was a trip down memory lane, and for a whole new generation of fans, this was an education in music history at its finest. Vancouverites got a large dose of rock and roll with a Cherry Bomb on top!