Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Joe Jackson, Azzano Decimo June 28, 2009

The small town of Azzano Decimo, located about 30 kms west of Udine, has been hosting their very own small music festival for some years now. The other night they had a double treat, a rather interesting combo made up of Joe Jackson and UB40.

A major downpour threatened the event but luckily stopped just in time for Jackson`s performance. As photographers we were permitted the first three songs in order to shoot pics (this is usually the norm). As we were preparing from upon the stage came Jackson`s manager who insisted that we shoot from the crowd and “only side shots, no frontal pics”! Quite odd was his “order”, seeing that nowadays, at least in Italy, you can shoot from the audience with pretty well anything (cell phones with built-in cameras, small and large digital cameras, etc.).

With not much choice we had to oblige (was the request given perhaps Joe`s many possible face-lifts?). Something else that was to be rather odd also happened, but towards the end of his performance.

The show was a wee bit too lengthy, running almost close to one hour over an acceptable time period. Nevertheless, some of his songs brought back nice memories, especially one song which was now a whopping 30 years old and that we`d all hear on the car radio, the 1979 hit “Is She Really Going Out With Him”? Jackson, an Englishman, was once part of a trio along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker that had challenged the punk scene and who had brought a new wave sound to the U.S. in the late 1970s. He played the entire evening on piano and was backed-up on stage by two members, Graham Maby on bass guitar and Dave Houghton on drums (he`s been with him since 1979). He also played some tunes from his latest album, “Rain” (2008). His pieces actually weren`t bad but some of the songs began to drag on a wee bit, until his pain-in-the-ass manager got up on stage, while Joe was playing a piece, and from behind his shoulder placed a piece of paper on the piano. As he was playing, Jackson read the note to himself. Once the song ended, he told everyone: “I was going to play two more songs but they`ve told me I can only play one”! This is for me no doubt a first where an artist is told to “knock it off” (were folks a wee bit tired and wanted the UB40 boys finally up on stage?). He took a quick bow, not even right up to the edge of the stage, and simply walked away. Apparently, he didn`t even stop to talk to local organisers and just disappeared (all pics by M. Rimati)!

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