Rickie Lee Jones
San Francisco Jewish Community Center
March 19, 2017
Rickie Lee Jones put on a fantastic performance at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco on a recent Sunday evening. In a career that has spanned five decades and won her two Grammy Awards, she still continues to amaze us with her talent. Jones is probably best known for her self-titled debut album Rickie Lee Jones released in 1979 that included the jazzy hits “Chuck E’s In Love” and “Youngblood” which both hit the Billboard charts. Her appearance on Saturday Night Live a month after her debut album was released turned her into an overnight sensation. Her signature berets, long blonde hair, and sultry jazz talk quickly garnered her attention and Time magazine covered her in an article that dubbed her the “Duchess of Coolsville,” a title that has stuck with her over the years. Rolling Stone magazine was an ardent supporter and featured her on the cover twice in her early years. In 1981 she released “Pirates” which was critically acclaimed and included the hits “We Belong Together” and “A Lucky Guy”.
In the early 80’s Jones changed direction to a more experimental and complex sound which was not as commercially successful. In 1989 came “Flying Cowboys,” which included the hits “Satellites” and “The Horses” co-written with Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and featured in the movie “Jerry McGuire.” She has continued to tour and release albums since then, although none have been as successful as the early years; the critics are still favorable and her voice is still amazing.
Jones filled the hour-long set with a series of powerful hits and the sold-out crowd was enjoying every minute. She started the set with “Youngblood,” on which she played acoustic guitar and was accompanied by two backup musicians, one of which was percussionist Mike Dillon. Dillon, who tours with his own band Mike Dillon Band, is normally a frenetic punk rock/metal xylophonist, but was much more subdued as a backup musician. His talents really showed through as he switched from vibes, congas, and drums with varying levels of dynamics. The next song “Weasel and The White Boys Cool” featured some neat vocal harmonies with Rickie and the backup singer. The crowd started really getting in to it after they played “The Last Chance Texaco” and started whistling wildly. Jones dedicated the next song “Firewalker” to her sister.
About halfway through the set Jones switched to piano on the hit “We Belong Together,” which really showcased her voice, which seems to get more powerful at the higher registers before dipping down in to soulful and sexy whispers. She also seemed to get more passionate on this one and really connected with the audience. The next song, “Living It Up,” was also an audience favorite as her voice took you through her lyrics which are like poetry and inspired some chills. Jones did a cover of the Kenny Loggins’ hit “The Horse” before finishing the set with a lilting version of “Infinity” that trailed off taking the listener down a musical path that was similar to walking through a garden. The crowd responded with a standing ovation that lasted a couple minutes.
Jones is touring with jazz/blues singer Madeleine Peyroux, who also put on an amazing set. Peyroux sounds like a sultrier Judy Garland and mixed her set of blues and jazz covers with bawdy jokes that were reminiscent of a cabaret style. Peyroux and her trio started off the set with the Willie Dixon cover “If the Sea Was Whiskey” which included slide guitar and nice vocal harmonies. She dedicated the next song, Graham and Williams’ “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” to the Democratic National Party followed by a dedication to the Republican Party the Lennon and McCartney song “It’s Getting Better All the Time.” She dedicated the Sister Rosetta Tharpe song “Shout Sister Shout” to all the ladies in the audience which had the crowd clapping along and followed that up with a funky version of the Allen Toussaint cover “Everything That I Do Gon’ Be Funky (From Now On)” for the men. Jones returned to the stage and the the two ladies did a wonderful duet of the Herman Hupfield standard “As Time Goes By.” Their styles really complemented each other as Peyroux’s bluesy voice set a tone that Jones’ passionate higher range cut through. The crowd really enjoyed it and it was a fitting end to a night of spectacular music from these two talented ladies.
Rickie Lee Jones:
Setlist: Youngblood | Weasel and the White Boys Cool | The Last Chance Texaco | Firewalker | Love Is Gonna Bring Us Back Alive | We Belong Together |Living It Up | The Horse (Kenny Loggins cover) | Infinity
For more info about Rickie Lee Jones, see her website.
Find out more about Madeleine Peyroux here.