August 4, 2016 Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Heart & Cheap Trick Simply Magical Jones Beach, NY 7-28-16
Receiving a nomination into Cleveland, Ohio’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems at times an impossible task for many artists, let alone getting inducted. While there are arguably many acts rightfully worthy of such an honor, thankfully the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have made up for some oversights in recent years with the induction of Heart in 2013, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in 2015, and most recently, Cheap Trip this past April. Three notable acts which have generated a historic landmark in music whether it be the Rock-Power Pop legacy of Cheap Trick, the two sisters with a dueling guitar attitude in Heart, or the iconic female Punk Rocker in Ms. Joan Jett, each have made their impact. That being said, what better way to celebrate than a major tour honoring their place in Rock-n-Roll history. There is no better way, and this past January it became a reality with the announcement of the Rock Hall Three For All Tour.
An extensive thirty-one date summer tour, it kicked off on July 14th in Clarkston, Missouri and is set to conclude on September 23rd in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dubbed one of the highlights of the summer concert season, as the tour was about ten stops in, it was time for a surprising plot twist that occurred on Thursday July, 28th at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York. That would be the humble Heart generously stepping down from the bill to allow Joan Jett to headline the night, after she was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and currently resides in nearby beach town Long Beach. A homecoming for Joan Jett, everyone on the bill were in a comfortable setting with past history’s at the venue who welcomed them back with open arms.
Fans who made it to Jones Beach on time were lucky to see the most recent inductees Cheap Trick take the stage. The ultimate live Rock band, Cheap Trick’s energy has not diminished despite the fact that they have been going for over four decades now. The iconic group from Rockford, Illinois was founded in 1972 and made history since their acclaimed second studio album, 1977’s In Color, often regarded as one of the best Rock albums of all-time. With that in mind, several artists have covered their music throughout the years, especially since the band has influenced a handful of genres including Pop, Punk, and Metal. Not only have they inspired, but Cheap Trick has also sold over twenty million records and reached gold and platinum status several times. Dressed with success, it has not stopped them from dipping away from quality, which was proven on their seventeenth studio album, Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello, which hit stores this past April.
Promoting their newest material, Robin Zander (lead vocals/guitar), Tom Petersson (bass/vocals), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar/vocals), and Daxx Nielsen (drums) all knew how to put on an incredible show and give their fans exactly what they wanted. Gearing the audience up for their arrival, a long recording was displayed that sounded as though it was hits from classic TV shows such as The Simpsons. Then, after a few minutes, a voice-over made the introduction, “The one and only Cheap Trick.” With that, everyone began screaming out as the band hit the platform and went right into the iconic hit “Hello There” followed by the new song “Heart on the Line.” The set cooled down a bit with a bluesy vibe as they moved into “California Man” before Zander engaged the audience as he stated, “Just in case you did not know, we are the one and only Cheap Trick.” Provoking laughter, Zander demanded all to sing the next song loudly as they went into “If You Want My Love,” from 1982’s One On One.
Zander introduced the next track as a direct request from Heart as they moved into “Never Had a Lot to Lose,” off of 1988’s Lap of Luxury. Continuing to engage the audience, Zander asked if they heard about the new album and joked around stating how no one had heard of it before they moved into the new tune “Blood Red Lips,” followed by “Baby Loves to Rock,” and “I’m Waiting for the Man.” Moving along at a speedy pace, they set up the emotive ’80s classic “The Flame” before going directly into the major hits such as “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” and the iconic “Surrender.” Sadly, it was time for the final song as their time concluded with “Goodnight.” Overall, the extended opening set of Cheap Trick was nothing short of fantastic as Rock fans enjoyed listening to the back to back classic tunes.
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As stated, many expected to see Joan Jett take the stage next, but little did they know, Heart swapped positions. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, these rockers have brought a twist of Rock, Pop, and all in between since their 1976’s debut album, Dreamboat Annie. Come together in a time where there was a movement of more and more females in Rock-n-Roll, it was something that was almost unheard of in decades prior, but a welcomed progression. Revolutionary, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson picked up guitars, and to this day, continue to prove that women know how to Rock. That being said, when it comes to Heart, it does not matter one’s gender or how old or young they are, this band’s music has been featured everywhere from the radio, to television, to movies. So much so, the average person would most likely recognize a Heart classic instantly. Additionally, they have sold well over thirty-five million albums in the course of their career and continue to create new music as they are promoting their sixteenth studio album, Beautiful Broken.
Enchanting introductory music entered with accompanied heart colored lights hit as Ann (vocals/guitar), Nancy (vocals/rhythm guitar), Ben Smith (drums), Dan Rothchild (bass), and Chris Joyner (keyboard) walked onto the stage beginning with “Magic Man” and “What About Love.” Ann politely thanked the crowd for making it out that evening and surviving through the traffic. She continued to express how happy she was to be there and the beauty of sharing Rock-n-Roll together as they went into ’80s hit “These Dreams” with Nancy taking lead on vocals. The crowd sang along as the timeless classic sounded beautiful and tranquil with the bay set in the background.
Sharing the spotlight, Nancy thanked the audience and introduced the new tune as the Ne-Yo cover of “Two” from Beautiful Broken. From here, Ann interacted with the audience more and said how everyone looked relaxed in their seats before moving into “Straight On,” from 1978’s Dog & Butterfly. The next tune was announced as a “beach song,” creating a mood as they played 1977’s “Kick It Out.” Introducing another new track, Ann described the song being about “a person who’s got it all, the look, the makeup, and everything, but, they are batshit crazy.” A rather humorous description, they played the title-track off Beautiful Broken followed by another classic in the form of 1987’s “Alone.”
As the set was winding down, Nancy went into a familiar introduction to the iconic song “Crazy on You.” Everyone continued to cheer as images of Heart appeared on the back of the stage before segueing into the killer tune “Barracuda.” Briefly walking off the stage, Heart returned with Cheap Trick as they went into a cover of the Everly Brothers “Love Hurts.” It was a momentous closeout of their extensive set, and displayed the tremendous vocal talents of the Wilson sisters. Abbreviated set or not, Heart captured the souls of Jones Beach in an extraordinary way.
At this point, the amphitheater was completely packed from the floor to the section known as the “NoseBleeds” as it was time for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts to close out the night. Starting her music career as a teenager in the ’70s as one of the co-founders of one of the first all-female Rock ‘N’ Roll groups, The Runaways, which included icons Lita Ford and Cherie Currie, Jett was with the band from 1975 until it disbanded in 1979. Taking a stab at producing shortly after, she ended up building one of the most iconic Punk albums of all time, 1979’s (GI) from the Germs. Since then, Jett has reached quite a few landmarks in her career with the Blackhearts that includes unforgettable songs and memorable albums. On this evening, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took over Jones Beach, and in the hearts of fans, it became Joan’s Beach.
Wasting no time, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts hit the stage with a bang as they ripped into classic tunes “Bad Reputation” and a cover of the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.” Both were unexpected openers as the hits continued with the next, “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” before Jett introduced the newer tune, going into “TMI” and “Soulmates to Strangers,” from 2013’s Unvarnished. Switching gears again, she introduced the next song saying, “Earlier we played the Runaways’ ‘Cherry Bomb,’ well now we are going to go into the first song that they ever wrote, ‘You Drive Me Wild.’ It was the first Runaways recording.”
Indulging in the oldest song Jett recorded in her career, it was time to move back to 2013’s Unvarnished. Here, Jett opened up to the audience with a backstory, explaining about the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and how its wreckage was terrible at her home in Long Beach. This debris led Jett to think about disasters from across the country and how people end up having empathy. Jett continued to explain what she saw in Long Beach after this catastrophe, was people coming together and seeing humanity at its best, which ended up giving her chills. A telling story, she went into “Make it Back,” a song to help one feel comfortable during disaster. Receiving more applause, Jett thanked the audience and explained how she once made a music movie with Michael J Fox, where Bruce Springsteen wrote the music, that music would be “Light of Day.” Rocking out the tune, the set moved in a different direction as they went into “Fragile,” from Unvarnished, followed by “Love is Pain,” from 1981’s I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.
Moving forward, Jett explained the next tune’s title says it all as they blasted out another new cut entitled “Hard to Grow Up.” Changing it up again, and going in a more romantic direction, Jett went on to say, “Love between two people can be a beautiful thing. Love between three people is even more beautiful, especially if one of them is me,” as she filled the air with innuendo for “Twisted Love Affair.” Mixing in a Dave Grohl co-penned “Any Weather,” Jett knew exactly what the fans had been waiting all night for as she moved into the iconic “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” thereafter. This had everyone up and singing, and that did not stop as they offered up their rendition of Tommy James & The Shondell’s “Crimson & Clover.” A riveting performance, Jett closed out with the unforgettable, aggressive, and truthful tune “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” leaving her fellow Long Islanders crying out for more songs. Shortly, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts reemerged on stage to wrap up the night with “Real Wild Child” before the uplifting Sly & The Family Stone track “Everyday People.”
It is not often to see three iconic and headlining-worthy acts to share the same stage in one night. What was even more surprising was the generosity from Heart to let Joan Jett headline in her hometown. A unique show within a list of them that are bound to all hold special memories, everyone left Jones Beach smiling from ear to ear.Photo credit: Mark Schoen Photography