It was sweltering hot, Saturday evening, July 16. Just after eight, fashionably late, Joe Jackson’s band took the stage to the tunes of an old Charleston record. The Brit himself rose to his feet while enjoying a post-punk tuning of the instruments and sat down behind his stage piano. With “One more time” it started.
The musician is now 67 years old and with a career spanning more than 50 years, you can surely speak of a legend on stage 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Once again to promote his latest album “Fool” from 2019, which tends to move more towards the old punk rock and new wave side, and leaves behind the pop period from which his hits come. But the public knew what to expect because there are few as versatile as Jackson. This also turned out to be the case in the hall.
As brisk as the concert started, a period of calm came after a few songs when the band went off, leaving Jackson alone at his piano. After an entrance (“Solo (So low)”), Joe quickly moved on to “Real Man”, which was sung along by all throats present. The cover that Jackson played next was surprising, but Steely Dan’s “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” was performed particularly well by the Brit. He then got the laughs on his hand with the announcement of “Love at first light”, from the album “Volume 4”. ‘What will the first thing you say in the morning after you go home after meeting someone? Who are you?!?’ The joke was better than the energy during the song, which seemed to make for a bit of a hiccup.
The band came back in time and brought some spice back to the set with “Kings of the city”. That was necessary, because at previous concerts of Jackson, the set broke down halfway. However, the musician had put together another set for Tilburg, which was clearly better. Minimal moments of rest and more work from the man’s punk rock period ensured that the audience barely had time to recover. One of the highlights, the older “Blaze of Glory” slowly transitioned to the later work “Fool”, before including another cover in the set, “Sing You Sinners” by Tony Bennet. That song was used at the end for a nice bridge to one of Jackson’s biggest hits, “Is she really going out with him”, which was sung along again word for word by the entire audience.
The performance seemed to end on the heavy side with “It’s different for girls” and the post-punk of “I’m the man”. Ending in the same way as the concert started, with the heavier work of his early days. An encore was inevitable and “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)” ushered in the absolute end, which was a bit two-sided. If you turn the electro-pop hit “Steppin’ Out” into a drizzly ballad, you actually have to close with a clapper that keeps the audience singing along as they walk outside. It was a bit of a weak ending for a concert with a lot of post-rock and -punk, but if you use the song to really ‘step out’, you are simply doing brilliantly. One by one, the musicians presented their instruments, bowed deeply, received applause and left the stage, until only David Ian Jackson was left behind. Joe started a barrel, stepped out from behind his keyboard, bowed last, and left the stage.
A great artist played his show in Tilburg. A setlist that was still somewhat unbalanced, but has also been worse in recent weeks. Was it the age? No, Jackson’s voice was simply good. The keyboard playing has never been the most difficult or deep work, and there was nothing to criticize about that either. His fellow musicians were all absolutely good and made no mistakes. The latter could not be said of Jackson, who processed his mistakes in a song in a laconic but perfect way in a praise of live music “Live is the only way to see a musician fuck up the end of his own song. ” But despite all the qualities taken together, it could have all been put together a little better, allowing Jackson to keep the audience on their lips for the entire set.