Tag Archives: Joe Jackson

Coming full circle

We had long ago committed to seeing Cher at the new basketball arena in Milwaukee. But then I saw Joe Jackson also was coming to town. Oooh, we really needed to see that one, too, even if the shows were six days apart, stretching both our concert and travel budgets.

The second show Janet and I ever saw together was Joe Jackson. We were both 22 and sooooo sophisticated then, traveling to Minneapolis to see him at the Guthrie Theater on the last Sunday night of October 1979. That ticket cost $7.50, or about $25.50 in today’s dollars.

We looked forward to our 40-year reunion with Joe Jackson at the always wonderful Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. It was everything we’d hoped for.

It took only three songs for the not-quite-sold-out crowd to get into the spirit of the evening — “Look over there! WHERE?” — the call and response in “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” That was one of the songs we heard 40 years ago.

It was a charming evening, with Joe Jackson enjoying the proceedings despite a bit of a head cold. “Time is a relentless, vicious bastard,” he said good-naturedly to all the old hipsters and cool chicks before tearing into another song.

Fun to see Graham Maby, the bass player then and now. Jackson’s drummer Doug Yowell was a revelation, pounding away like Buddy Rich. Equal parts thunderous and tremendous.

We were delighted that “Look Sharp!” his debut album from 1979, was one of five albums from which Joe Jackson is drawing songs for his Four Decades Tour. So we also got to hear “One More Time” one more time, along with “Sunday Papers” and “Got The Time.”

“Look Sharp!” is one of our favorite records. Janet and I had it in our individual collections long before we ever merged them. Our copies of “Look Sharp!” are among the early pressings — a package that consisted of two 10-inch EPs with a small “Look Sharp!” pin. Mine still has the pin. Janet’s pin is gone, and the picture of Joe Jackson on the flip side of her album has light blue crop marks from where she once used it to illustrate a newspaper review of the album.

Joe Jackson set list, Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, on May 6, 2019

“Alchemy,” “One More Time,” “Is She Really Going Out With Him” “Another World,” “Fabulously Absolute,” “Strange Land,” “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Real Men,” “Rain,” “Invisible Man,” “It’s Different For Girls,” “Fool,” “Sunday Papers,” “King Of The World,” “You Can’t Get What You Want (‘Til You Know What You Want),” “Ode To Joy,” “I’m The Man.” Encore numbers: “Steppin’ Out,” “Got The Time,” “Alchemy (reprise).”

As for Cher, also an evening well spent.

It started with a scorching 45-minute set by Nile Rodgers and Chic despite being squeezed onto that tiny strip of stage in front of the Cher curtain. Some of their songs: “Le Freak,” “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” “Good Times,” “Let’s Dance,” “We Are Family” and “Get Lucky.” You get the idea.

I’ve never been to Vegas, but I imagine Cher’s show is what a Vegas show is like. Dancers! Lights! Stage sets! A loopy, rambling but endearing monologue! Nine costumes over the course of 16 songs!

Coolest part — for me — was “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe” done on a ’60s vintage go-go club set. On the latter, Cher sang to video and audio of Sonny. I’ve seen that work for Queen and the Monkees, and it worked nicely here, too. Also got a flashback from the video boards. I glanced over to see Cher and her dancers framed just as they were on her old TV variety shows.

But I also must report that Cher does not do encores. As “Believe” winds down, she walks to each corner of the stage and waves, and then to center stage and waves. Then she walks off and the lights come up.

Cher set list, Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, on May 12, 2019

“Woman’s World,” “Strong Enough,” “Gayatri Mantra,” “All Or Nothing,” “The Beat Goes On,” “I Got You Babe,” “Welcome To Burlesque,” “Waterloo,” “SOS,” “Fernando,” “After All,” “Walking In Memphis,” “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” “I Found Someone,” “If I Could Turn Back Time,” “Believe.”

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Filed under May 2019, Sounds

That’s the ticket

Just wanted to remind you that we’re moonlighting again over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker.

It resurfaces at the end of every month, emerging from the haze of time, reviving an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album would be played.

Tonight, we have a short but sweet side from a performer I saw almost 30 years ago, in a time when we imagined ourselves so sophisticated.


Listen, and you’ll hear that the tunes on “Look Sharp” by Joe Jackson have scarcely aged a day in all that time since.


“Happy Loving Couples,” Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp,” 1979.

Check out the rest of Side 2 over at The Midnight Tracker.


Filed under September 2009, Sounds

Is she? Really?

March 9 was a Friday night back in 1979. I was a senior in college at that time, attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Friday nights and college students meant just one thing. House party.

I was late to the party at Pat’s house that night, too. I often worked at the newspaper until about 11 p.m., so everyone usually had a considerable head start on me. Which was not necessarily a bad thing. I worked hard, then played hard, not usually given to moderation.

At that particular house party, I met a girl I knew. We looked for a quiet place to talk. That place was near the top of the stairs, on the way to the bathroom, so we dodged a fair amount of traffic from time to time.

The party wound down, and I asked that girl whether she wanted a ride home. Turns out it was just a couple of blocks to her house. Even so, it was time enough for this mantra to keep running through my head — “Take it easy. Don’t push it. Be cool.” We sat in the car outside her house for a little while longer, and I worked up the nerve to ask whether she’d like to do something again, maybe dinner. She said yes.

That girl and I were in some journalism classes together. Our circles of friends overlapped. When word got around that we’d become a couple, this pretty much summed up the reaction from some of our friends.


“Is She Really Going Out With Him?” Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp!” 1979.

Yes, she was. She still is. Janet and I have been together 30 years today.

That Joe Jackson album — a wonderfully intelligent though cynical mashup of pop, rock, ska, reggae and jazz — was one of our favorites then and remains so today.

When our record collections finally merged, we each had a copy of “Look Sharp!” Our copies are among the early pressings — a package that consisted of two 10-inch EPs with a small “Look Sharp!” pin. Mine still has the pin. Janet’s pin is gone, and the picture of Joe Jackson on the flip side of her album has light blue crop marks from where she once used it to illustrate a review of the album.

Both of them have these cuts, too.

“Fools In Love” — Are there any other kind of lovers, indeed.

“Sunday Papers” — We used to love going out and getting a stack of the big-city Sunday papers — New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities — and spending most of the day with them. How quaint that seems now.

Both by Joe Jackson, from “Look Sharp!” 1979.


Filed under March 2009, Sounds