Like his kindred spirits in the cathartic bitter-nerd movement of the
late-'70s/early-'80s (Elvis Costello, "Angry Young Man"era Billy
Joel), Jackson converted all his social and romantic disappointments
(pretty women walking with gorillas, growing old before his time,
Gallagher [!] ridiculing his homeliness by asking "Does Joe Jackson
have to be in his videos?") into sardonic diatribes with peppy hooks.
As the only artist who can claim to have covered the Andrews Sisters
and been covered by Anthrax, Jackson boasts extraordinary range,
dabbling in swing, reggae, jazz, and salsa. He concentrated on
classical composition for a spell, winning a Grammy for 1999's
Symphony No. 1, but for his past few tours and albums he's returned to
the piano-pop realm alongside his early-album rhythm section, bassist
Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton. Thanks perhaps to smoking bans,
of which the "Everything gives you cancer" songwriter has been an
outspoken critic, he's recaptured his lyrical crankiness. In concert,
Jackson tinkers with his most familiar melodies (Live 19801986
contains a radically revamped version of "Steppin' Out") and
experimentally rearranges the cover songs he selects (by the Beatles,
XTC, and the Yardbirds, to name a few recent sources). With Mutlu.
Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 443-1744. 7:30 p.m. $39.50$49.50.
Sun., May 4, 7:30 p.m., 2008