Every now and then an artist releases an album that is so impactful and remarkable, that it captures and captivates an audience with such a force that decades later it can transport people from all over the world back to the time they first heard it. Rickee Lee Jones released her self titled debut in 1979 and it’s combination of jazzy blues, incredible song writing and almost beatnik delivery had many hailing her as a new Joni Mitchell. The love and warmth for that record is very much in evidence with the near capacity audience at the Gov tonight. People are of a ‘certain vintage’, but they are all here for the same reason.
Rickee Lee makes an unconventional entrance to the stage, as even though there are only three people on the stage (Rickee and two other musicians), the stage is configured in such a way that she couldn’t get on the stage without coming through the audience and getting a leg up. The first couple of songs (Weasel and The White Boys Cool and Young Blood both from that debut record) are a little shaky, but it turns out she had not been able to sound check, so they were tweaking as they were going. By the time she gets to Circle in The Sand from 2007’s The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard, things are cooking along nicely.
The Last Chance Texaco, is an absolute classic example of Jones story telling style. She has a lot in common with early Springsteen or Tom Waits (who co-incidentally was her boyfriend for several years before she had a record out, that is her on the back cover of Waits Blue Valentine in 1978), with her lyrics painting nuanced pictures, intriguing characters. Blinded by The Hunt is from her 2015 album The Other Side of Desire and proves a real highlight this evening. Love is Going To bring Us Back Alive (Flying Cowboys 1989) is a little less reggae tinged than the original but definitely goes down well with this crowd.
There is a great version of Cry Me a River a song from 1953 originally written for Ella Fitzgerald but not release until 1961, was a massive hit for Julie London in ’55 and has been covered by everybody from Joe Cocker to Aerosmith, Michael Buble to Bjork. It is in every sense of the word an evergreen. Rickee Lee Jones makes it her own this evening and the response is rapturous.
Returning to that debut album Coolsville is enthusiastically met and at it’s end she asks conspiratorially “Shall we do We Belong Together?”, and answer is a resounding yes. The track that was the opening song on the second album Pirates tells the mournful story of lost love, while painting rich images of cats like Johnny The King. Pirates was full of this kind of colourful storytelling and so it’s an extra treat to have the song that was track two on that album Living It Up appear tonight also.
Wild Girl was originally half written in 1986 and finished off for the Balm of Gilead record in 2009 and has turned into a live staple. Vessel of Light is from her 1997 album GHoSTYhead, an unexpected excursion into beats, loops and trip hop.
A couple of nights before Adelaide she invited a special guest up on stage to perform a song she co-wrote and that appeared in the movie Jerry Maguire. In this country was a massive hit for Daryl Braithwaite in 1991 and in the opinions of many should be our national anthem. The Horses proves an irresistible sing-a-long tonight and the entire audience is singing along, to the point were we are the lead vocalists and Rickee Lee is adding vocal embellishments while her band beam with joy and one of her crew films on his phone. The place erupts at the end and their is nowhere left to go except the anthem everybody has come to hear. She plays the opening chords of Chuck E’s In Love and a massive roar goes up. It is a great song and people clearly love it completely. However the songs vocal jazz timing is throwing a lot of people off with their enthusiastic joining in and much of the song is lost in a cacophony of community choir. It is extremely joyous nonetheless and with the crowds thunderous applause Rickee Lee Jones makes a slightly less than elegant exit from the stage. Re-appearing on stage for a wave but no encore.
Adelaide is still in love with Chuck E and with Rickee Lee Jones.
Review By Ian Bell
Weasel & The White Boys Cool
Circle in the Sand
The Last Chance Texaco
Blinded By The Hunt
Love Is Going To Bring Us back Alive
Cry Me a River
We Belong Together
Living It Up
Vessel of Light
Chuck E’s In Love