Joan Jett live in Raleigh review: Still inspiring after all these years

Joan Jett did not disappear decades ago. She still knows how to rock and inspire even today.
Joan Jett in concert
Joan Jett in concert / Kevin Mazur/GettyImages

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts performed at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, North Carolina, on June 27. The group was the second opening act for Alanis Morissette’s Triple Moon Tour. Country singer/songwriter Morgan Wade opened the show.

Jett and her band came onstage to a recording of punk band Bikini Kill’s song “Rebel Girl” – a sure sign that a set of feminist-inspired songs was about to occur. Jett produced the single version of the song, released in 1993. She also played guitar on it and sang backing vocals.

Early in the show, Jett introduced “Cherry Bomb,” made famous by her first band, The Runaways, in 1976. The song’s lyrics served as a precursor of the good times to come:

“Can't stay at home, can't stay in school
Old folks say, ‘You poor little fool’
Down the streets I'm the girl next door
I'm the fox you've been waiting for
Hello, Daddy, hello, Mom
I'm your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb
Hello world, I'm your wild girl
I'm your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb
Stone Age love and strange sounds too
Come on, baby, let me get to you
Bad nights causing teenage blues
Get down ladies, you've got nothin' to lose …”

Joan Jett still rocks after decades in the music business

Despite the sweltering heat at the outdoor amphitheater, the reserved seats and lawn were packed with rock and roll fans. The crowd – indeed, mostly women – was enthralled with Jett and her crew’s loud, boisterous performances. Hit songs (mostly from the 1980s) such as “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You” made up much of the setlist.

Jett, now 65 years old, seemed ever-youthful as she prowled across the stage. She was dressed in black leather pants and a black leather vest that showed off her toned, tattooed left arm. Her signature black hair and eyeliner completed the look. A guitar adorned with a peace sign, hearts, and other stickers was slung across her shoulder. Synchronized lights and video effects enhanced the on-stage performances.

In addition to their popular songs, Jett and the Blackhearts performed several covers. These included “Androgynous" by The Replacements, “Everyday People” by Sly & the Family Stone, and “Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells.

The group closed their set with another of Jett’s hit songs, “Bad Reputation.” She proudly proclaimed:

“I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation
Living in the past, it's a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do and that's what I'm gonna do.”

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Though Jett received only one Grammy Award nomination throughout her career, in 1989, she definitely paved the road for future feminist/punk bands like Bikini Kill, L7, and The Distillers. Her look, style, and ability to fight against the male-dominated music business are often duplicated by the newer generation of women singers.

I was inspired as I listened to Jett and the Blackhearts’ anthems about female empowerment. As I looked across the crowded lawn and witnessed nearly 14,000 concertgoers singing along, I was reminded of the immense potential of music to bring people together.

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