I am a Pittsburgher, so last night’s free Joan Jett and the Blackhearts show at the “Clean Energy Jobs Now!” rally in Point State Park was the first Blackhearts show that I hadn’t had to travel for since Warped Tour 2006. It was also the first time The Blackhearts had played within the Pittsburgh city limits since the Coors Light Rib America Festival on June 21, 2002, at Heinz Field. (Warped Tour was in Burgettstown, an hour away.)
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NOTHING will keep me from seeing Joan Jett perform in my own back yard. EVER. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor threat of violent G20 protests. Not even if I have to sit through three hours of activists, all saying the exact same thing, before her performance. Not even if you had told me that The Blackhearts were only going to play six songs.
Rain was in the forecast, and it did rain about an hour before the event got underway. But that didn’t scare me. I practically had tornadoes chasing me on the way to see Joan at The Big Butler Fair in 1998, and the sun came out right before the show. My first two tweets on my way to the rally took care of the rain:
- it’s raining in pittsburgh, ugh. i’ve seen @joanjett chase away tornadoes b4. Do it again Joanie! (4:15 PM)
- rain stopped. thanks @joanjett! (5:54 PM)
And there were no violent protesters, just a couple of people holding up signs. The rally itself wasn’t too bad. Most of the speakers were engaging, and they all kept it short. All of the musical acts kept it to 25 minutes or under. They had two stages set up side-by-side, one for the speakers and one for the musical acts, which helped things move along faster than you would expect by looking at the volume of performers and speakers present.
During Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, one of the steelworker volunteers gave me a ticket to the reserved seating section because they wanted to fill up the seats. I found a seat in the third row. (Major score!) Then I sat through roughly another hour and 45 minutes of speakers peppered with a musical act every so often. One standout was Kathy Mattea, who, I admit, I had never heard of before this evening. Her voice was clear and haunting, like a pretty bell. I’m going to have to check her out again.
After Kathy Mattea left the stage, at about 8:24 PM, there were still more speakers. Here’s where the crowd started getting antsy. We could see the music stage being prepped for Joan’s set, and a few people in the crowd started asking for Joan. We had to sit through three or four more speakers and a taped message from Al Gore, and every few seconds I heard “Joan Jett!” being shouted, but it wasn’t loud enough to cause a major disruption. The whole time we were watching, and hearing, Joan’s stage crew tune the instruments. The anticipation was intense, and I loved every minute of it.
Then, finally, The Blackhearts took the stage at 8:45 PM. The sound was fantastic and the performance was very tight, as usual. I was able to bring my camera, and I got a few good shots:
Then the Blackhearts left the stage at 9:11 PM, 26 minutes later.
Here’s the set list:
Do You Wanna Touch Me
I Love Rock N Roll
Crimson and Clover
I Hate Myself for Loving You
That’s it, Fort Pitt. (That’s a popular saying around here, as you can imagine.) No encore. Another speaker came on. And then the Pittsburgh Gospel Choir sang a song. Two-thirds of the audience had already left.
I didn’t try to see the band after the show. I figured they would get the heck out of there as soon as possible and I didn’t want to piss off any cops.
Many people would have felt let down, but I actually preferred this show to the 8/5/09 show in Bethlehem, PA, when The Blackhearts opened for the B-52s. Not because Joan didn’t sound good that day, may Goddess strike you dead for even suggesting that, but because of the crowd. The Bethlehem crowd was 98% in the B-52s corner. Almost no one stood for Joan except during “ILRNR”, “Crimson”, and “Hate”, and I felt like I was the only one cheering. But tonight, everyone was there for Joan. My screams didn’t annoy anyone because everyone was screaming.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts played six songs for free, but I would have paid for every one of them.
Were any of you there? What did you think?
[UPDATE: When I originally wrote this, I knew that JJBH had played a rib fest in 2002 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, but I couldn’t remember what it was called. Now I know it was the Coors Light Rib America Festival on Friday, June 21st, 2002. Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes opened. I updated the top of this post accordingly.]