Dispatch from the Front

I’m not that great at writing concert reviews. I can’t see a rock show as a metaphor for anything; I can’t talk about how the crowd was held in rapture not unlike that cast by a Pentacostal preacher. What I can tell you is whether or not I enjoyed the show.

Last night I saw The Riverboat Gamblers, The Eagles of Death Metal, and Joan Jett at the House of Blues in Orlando and I enjoyed the show. Why’d I enjoy it? Was there something special? No, not really. Just a couple-three hours of good, old-fashioned rock and roll, played the way it ought to be without fancy effects or choreography.

If there was such a thing in Orlando as a mosh pit or crowd surfing, the extreme high energy of opening act the Riverboat Gamblers would have set the crowd off right away. Hailing from somewhere in Texas, singer Mike Weibe proclaimed the Gamblers had never been to Florida before, then proceded to whip the crowd into a frenzy that ultimately would result in security coming over twice to talk to one of the girls standing near me. Ultimately, they dragged her off somewhere, never to return. The Gamblers’ music is a fast-paced punk that results in big hits for silly bands from LA, but turns into years of frustration for bands from elsewhere.

I’m still not sure what to make of middle act The Eagles of Death Metal. For a long time now, I’ve thought they were an in-joke, maybe a Spinal Tap-like goof Josh Homme was playing on us. Even after seeing them live, they’re a competant band and all, but I still feel like someone’s trying to put something over on me. The guitarist was playing a Flying V, has what looked like a comb-over styled into a mohawk, and seemed to be at least as old as me, fer chrissake. I’m sure something’s up.

Then, the main attraction: Forget the fact that Joan Jett’s been playing music since before the Gamblers were probably even talking. She still looks like she could kick their asses. She led the Blackhearts through a set of what was more or less their greatest hits, with a couple of new songs, including a cover of Sweet’s “ACDC” thrown into the mix. Live, the Blackhearts are more raw, more punk, than you would expect from the glossy mix of their records. And Joan looks awesome. She’s ripped like a fitness freak and looks as good as she did 20 years ago. Better, even.

Anyway, like I said, I’m not great at writing reviews of live shows. If you actually read through all of this, I congratulate you! And I promise this will be my last Joan Jett post for awhile; I’ll get back to the vinyl ASAP.

Year of the Rooster.mp3 The Riverboat Gamblers
Whorehoppin’.mp3 The Eagles of Death Metal
ACDC.mp3 Joan Jett and the Blackhearts


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