The backdrop behind Joe Jackson's band at Ritchie Coliseum Saturday night was a black and white version of the Union Jack. Jackson himself was dressed in a dark suit with a black and white striped shirt. The songs, too, seemed stripped of all technicolor fantasies and musical frills. They were hard-hitting New Wave rock 'n' roll with blunt, realistic lyrics.
Jackson curled around his microphone stand and fired himself up by pounding his right palm with his left fist.His backing trio was every bit as forceful and economical as they are on record. Almost half the set was material from Jackson's next album. A stunning ballad, "Amateur," betrayed a new emotional vulnerability from Jackson. "Kind of Cute" was a worthy reworking of Graham Parker's "Heat Treatment." The show closed with a frantic version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame."
The show was opened by Maryland's the Original Fetish, one of the first victims of the Prince George's County Liquor Board ban on "punk-rock bands." The group's material can be in poor taste but is very funny. The two lead singers pantomimed and satirized their way through songs like "I'm Glad That Elvis is Dead," "Surfing Nazi" and "Standing in Line at Studio 54." The band, meanwhile, played medleys of trashy pop music ranging from "Wipe Out" to "All Shook Up."