By Ray Shasho
Thousands of fans watched an explosive performance by “The Queen of Rock and Roll” Joan Jett, and her band the Blackhearts, on Sunday evening in Busch Gardens. The concert was part of the Bands, Brew & BBQ- entertainment showcase at the Park.
The weather was impeccable, the sound system was perfect, the food was delicious, the crowd ecstatic, and the band was triumphant. It was a flawless late Afternoon/Evening at Busch Gardens.
The ageless Jett looked and sounded as she did in her heyday. It was a fantastic performance that will certainly embed a lasting impression on the exhilarated crowd.
Jett and the Blackhearts smoked the crowd immediately with her 1980- punker “Bad Reputation,” (A song she said was dedicated to the Baltimore Orioles and their 1979 season) and Runaways hit “Cherry Bomb.”
The 52 year old Jett sang “Light of Day,” a song written especially for her by Bruce Springsteen. The song was also the title for a movie that starred Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett.
It seemed like everyone inside the park was attending the concert. Many of the Joan Jett-faithful came dressed like her and ready to rock-out!
Jett and the Blackhearts played “Androgynous” a Replacements- cover tune and “Change the World,” a song Jett explained to the crowd was, “A song about stability and moving forward in a gentler way.” Both tunes were from the band’s 2006-release “Sinner.”
Other songs played to their perfection on Sunday were “Backlash,” “The French Song,” And Runaways tunes- “You Drive Me Wild,” (which was the first- song that Jett ever wrote) and “I love Playing with Fire.”
The crowd seemed mesmerized by Jett and the Blackhearts performance. It was like Jett was kept in a state of suspended animation since 1982 and brought back to life for a Busch Gardens- Command Performance.
Jett, sometimes referred to as “the girl Elvis” played “Fake Friends” a tune in which she collaborates with longtime- musical partner and friend Kenny Laguna. (Laguna was on stage playing keyboards with the band during their performance)
Jett and Laguna formed the independent Blackheart records together in 1980. The label started after 28- record companies rejected Jett before her smash hit “I Love Rock ‘n Roll.” (Jett was the first woman to start her own record label) Laguna started pressing records and sold them out of the trunk of his car. Six of Joan Jett’s Top40 hits were released on the Blackheart label.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts gave the audience at Busch Gardens everything they came for and so much more. The show wound down with an explosive ending. A rendition of The Runaways “School Days,” “Fetish,” followed by one of the most successful cover songs in rock history “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” (Ranked #89 in Rolling Stone’s 100- greatest guitar songs of all-time)
Immediately followed by Tommy James and the Shondells classic “Crimson and Clover,” and “I Hate Myself For Loving You.” (The song was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1989, “Best Rock Performance by a Group”)
After a huge standing ovation, the band came rocking- back with “AC- DC” and Sly and the Family Stone’s, “Everyday People.”
It was truly a magnificent performance by Joan Jett and her tight-rockin’ band, consisting of Dougie Needles on lead guitar, Acey Slade on bass, and Thommy Price playing the drums.
Here are some of the many comments left on Joan Jett and the Blackhearts facebook page right after the concert and then- today.
"Just left your concert at Busch Gardens and you rocked it!!! Awesome!!!!!"
"Thanks for such a great show at Busch Gardens today! I was in the front row, sooo awesome!!!"
"You rocked at Busch Gardens yesterday!! Proud to say you were my first rock concert!!!"
"You are awesome! Sooooo beautiful! You are theQueen of rock!"
The security was extremely tight for the event so I couldn't reach "The Godmother of Punk" for a few comments.
Joan and I had a few things to talk about too. (She and I are only a few months apart in our ages)
Joan's an alumnus of Wheaton High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. (I'm originally from Maryland and bought my very first electric guitar at Chuck Levin's in Wheaton)
Joan dedicated "Bad Reputation" to the Baltimore Orioles for their outstanding 1979 season. (I was a deejay covering the Orioles in the Playoffs and World Series in 1979 for WNAV radio in Annapolis)
Joan Jett played baseball at an Orioles Fantasy Camp in Sarasota called Dream Week in 1991. ( I played at that same Orioles fantasy camp a year before she did in 1990) and I really wanted to ask her how she played during the week?
Because if she played baseball anything like her concert on Sunday, then we're looking at the next Cal Ripken.
I do want to thank Kelly Heckinger-Marketing Communications for Busch Gardens, and the security by the front of the stage, for allowing me to shoot some unbelievable photos of the band.
... My article made front page of Joan Jett's Bad Reputation Nation
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