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Friday, 21st January 2000

Cape Girardeau, MO - Media Reviews

Photograph Of A Bad Reputation By Anna Reynolds

Four musicians walked out on stage, everyone knew Joan Jett was supposed to be the opening act, but it didn't look like she was on stage. People thought that, maybe she was going to make a grand entrance. The lights dimmed and the person singing sounded like Joan Jett, but it was hard to connect the voice with the hairless singer. When the crowd realized it was indeed Joan, the "Show Me Center" erupted in noise, everyone hoping for her best known songs.

They got them, but not until she showed Cape Girardeau, Missouri the true meaning of Punk Rock. After the crowd realized and got into the music, the Blackhearts persuaded everyone to bark like dogs during "Fetish". A song in which Joan sings, "Let me be your dog," to which the crowd barks.

The roadies began tearing down the Blackhearts equipment and I took the opportunity to sneak backstage to talk to Joan Jett. At first, she must have thought I was an obsessed fan, because she handed me a guitar pik and just smiled, so I handed her "my card".

The Joan Jett of the 80s is still alive and making music; "I've always been here. I didn't end with that decade. I continued to grow and so did my sound." The crowd's reaction to their newer music didn't phase her; "if someone came to hear "Cherry Bomb" and they liked something else, they are likely to go out and buy it. Then next time they'll come because of the music and not the name." Being an opening act with such a recognizable name has helped to bring all kinds of fans to the concerts, "Opening for Def Leppard has been an experience, a good experience. You find out who remembers you, who came to hear you and who doesn't really care about you. Almost like being in high school again."

I was as surprised as everyone else to see that Joan had shaved off her straight black hair, "It's great, isn't it? It's the best wash and go style I've every had." The whole hair question only drew attention to my own purple dye job, "Why purple? I could see you from the stage." Joan answered her own question.

When I asked her if she could be crowded the new Queen of Punk, she laughed, "Queen of Punk? I guess we can just call you the Pop Trash Queen and I'll be the Punk Trash Queen."

She says that Suzy Quatro and the Sex Pistols were her influences in the beginning, now she's her own best influence. "I've been down the road and back a few times now, and I know I've collected more than enough to keep writing songs for a long time." The Runaways taught her how to play the game, and this time around she and The Blackhearts are perfecting the ageless art of punk.

The lights out front flashed twice, someone yelled, "5 minutes guys," and Joe Elliot came rushing out of nowhere knocking me into Joan. After a quick apology and a brief introduction, the whole card thing again, he told me that I had missed the regular press time, "but since you dare to be seen in public with purple hair we can talk to you after the show." With that, he and four others rushed past us to start the show.

The audience was ready, this time every seat was taken. Parents had brought their kids, cowboys had brought their girlfriends, teenagers came in-groups, 20 and 30 somethings sat mixed together with older fans. When the music started age didn't matter, only the pounding beat and the lyrics everyone knew. The line up hasn't changed since the beginning, except for the addition of Vivian Campbell, x-Dio and Whitesnake guitarist, after the death of guitarist Steve Clark. Joe Elliot, who will turn 41 in August, still makes women swoon when he sings. Now 39, bass guitarist Rick Savage (Sav for short) has regained most, if not all of the muscle control he lost from Bell's Palsy in 1994. Phil Collen, now 43, has shed his anorexic thin frame and looks better than ever. At 37, Rick Allen is the youngest member and only one-armed drummer in rock-n-roll.

Joe Elliot was great, the only thing missing was his tight leopard print pants; Rick Savage made up for that. Phil Collen with his shirt off today is a much better site than 17 years ago, he doesn't brag, but in passing lets you know that he's a black belt and that "jumping around on stage does a body good, or is that milk? I can never remember."

For the Pyromania part of the show, the Union Jack was unfurled and Sav's guitar sported a jack too. Vivian had a much smaller Irish flag pinned up on the sound equipment behind him, "Just for kicks, and to see if anyone actually notices that it's there and not the same flag as what's up behind us."

They played two songs as an encore, and to my dismay, during the first one I lost my voice. During the second song, I made my way backstage; voice or no voice I was going to write my questions out if I had to. Hardly able to speak after two hours of Def Leppard, I suddenly realized that I had nothing prepared and no voice to ask it with. Panicked, I gulped down a bottle of water and tried to compose myself when the questions started flying, I'm just not sure who was interviewing whom.

By Svideo.com 2000.


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