What better artist is there to celebrate a decade of live music at the Paramount in Huntington than Long Island resident and queen of rock and roll, Joan Jett?
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts performed a two-hour set for the Paramount’s 10th anniversary show Tuesday evening before a jam-packed general admission section that turned into dance floor.
Jett is celebrating milestones this year herself. Her two most iconic albums, “Bad Reputation” and “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” which feature some of her biggest hits, both turn 40 this year.
Tuesday’s performance was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted band’s final show of the year, as the group announced last week it will postpone all remaining tour dates to 2022 over regional surges in COVID-19 cases.
‘The Hit List’
The night began with Jett pummeling her black Gibson Melody Maker for her classic set-starter “Victim of Circumstance,” Runaway’s hit “Cherry Bomb,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” her first of four WLIR Screamers of the Week and the anthemic “Bad Reputation.”
The leather-clad frontwoman who lives in Long Beach sang several lesser-known, yet superfan favorites from her catalogue, including “Crimson and Clover” b-side “Oh Woe is Me” and “Go Home,” penned and performed in dedication to Mia Zapata, the vocalist for The Gits who was murdered on her way home from a performance in Seattle in 1993.
Jett strummed most intensely during “Fragile,” an emotionally raw track for which she has the sole writing credit, a rarity in her post-Runaways body of work. “Album,” deep cut and low-down shuffle “Coney Island Whitefish” immediately followed and had Jett jumping up and down in her platform boots.
The five-piece’s four-track encore consisted of a pair of “Glorious Results of Misspent Youth” deep cuts, “Make it Back,” written in response to Hurricane Sandy and the band’s classic cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People.”
life-long fans and newcomers
Many of the fans waiting outside for the doors to open, including Michelle Passalacqua, said they lost track of just how many times they have seen Joan Jett and the Blackhearts over the years — as they have been seeing her live for four decades.
“She was the first band shirt that I ever got when I was 12 years old,” said Passalacqua, 51, of Farmingville. “I got her classic ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ Joan Jett and the Blackhearts shirt.” She was accompanied Tuesday evening by her daughter, Sara, who said she would go “berserk” when the band played “Bad Reputation.”
Passalacqua said she has lost track of the number of time she has seen Jett, but Donnie Hall, the first person waiting in line under the marquee, said he has seen Jett hundreds of times.
“We saw her last week,” said Hall, 49, from Atlanta, who walked out of the venue with a drumstick and a setlist. “We’ve seen her in Urbana, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa. I’ve been to six [Jett] shows this year.”
Inside, father and daughter Bob and Amber Barsony, wearing matches t-shirts they just purchased from the merch booth, waited for their first Joan Jett show to start.
“When I heard Joan Jett was coming, I said we can’t miss that show,” Bob Barsony, 52, from Smithtown, said.
“She just looks cool,” Amber Barsony said of Jett’s appeal to people of any generation. “She sounds cool. She is cool.”
a decade of decibels
On his way into his first Joan Jett show, Billy Fisher, who said he saw several shows at the Paramount over the past several years, explained what keeps him coming back.
“I always get standing room only seats,” Fisher, 62, of Port Jefferson, said. “I’ve had guys come right up to me and play in my face, and they love that. The bands that come to play here, you can see it when they play that they enjoy playing here. They got a smile on their face and they’re just ripping it.”
The Paramount’s owners Brian Doyle, Jim Condron, Stephen Ubertini and Dominick Catoggio opened their joint venture 10 years ago this month with the desire to bring a New York City type venue to the island.
“The four owners joined forces to open the Paramount because they saw that with their combined backgrounds, they could… fill a void on Long Island, where larger rock venues were few and far between,” the theater’s director of marketing, Adam Ellis, wrote in an email.
“Their vision was to create a place where the biggest rock stars in the world would perform and they would have all the best amenities and top notch attention to detail that would bring them back year after year.”
As for the future, Ellis said the club owners “expect to be even busier than 2019,” when industry publication Pollster placed the Paramount third on its list of top 200 clubs for the third quarter of the year.
“The next 10 years will signal a grand return to live entertainment after COVID shut the industry down… Once all the touring shows are back to 100%, the owners expect to deliver over 200 shows annually from 2022 on.”