Joe Jackson is coming to Portsmouth with an unprecedented two-part performance with no intermission.  First, listen to the music of Joe Jackson solo, performing songs from his catalog.  Next, Mr. Joe Jackson presents the music of Max Champion, featuring a nine-piece band. 

Joe Jackson was born in 1954 in Burton-on-Trent, England, but grew up in the South Coast naval port city of Portsmouth.

At age 16, Joe played his first paying gig, as pianist in a pub next door to a glue factory just outside of Portsmouth. This was followed by other pub gigs (in which he was often trying to entertain crowds of drunken, bottle-throwing sailors) and accompanying a bouzouki player in a Greek restaurant.

By 1978 Joe was living in London and hawking an album-length demo, with his own band (Graham Maby, Bass; Dave Houghton, Drums; Gary Sanford, Guitar) standing by.  That demo – Look Sharp – eventually found its way to American producer David Kershenbaum, a talent scout for A&M Records.  Joe was immediately signed and Look Sharp re-recorded in ‘78. The Joe Jackson Band finally started to play regular gigs and the album was released in 1979.

Look Sharp was followed within a year by the very similar I’m The Man, and in 1980 by the darker, more reggae-influenced Beat Crazy. At the end of 1980 when drummer Houghton decided to quit, Joe decided to dissolve the band and try something new.

In 1981, Jackson recorded Jumpin’ Jive, a ‘musical vacation’ paying tribute to Swing and Jump Blues artists such as Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway. Joe spent a large chunk of 1982 in New York – the result was Night and Day, a more sophisticated and melodic record built around keyboards and Latin percussion, rather than guitars. With a new guitar-less band, Jackson hit the road, and the album became his biggest success, going platinum in the US. During the tour, Joe also somehow found time to write his first film score, for James Bridges’ Mike’s Murder. (He would go on to write several more, including most notably for Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker in 1988).

Jackson’s next album Body and Soul (1984), was in a similar vein to Night and Day but featured a horn section (which, along with the Blue Note-inspired cover art, led many people to wrongly assume he’d made a jazz record). For Big World (1986), Jackson stripped everything down to a 4-piece again, and recorded live. In 1989 he went in the opposite direction with the majestic, semi-autobiographical Blaze of Glory. Laughter and Lust (1991) was more like a mainstream (though still idiosyncratic) rock record, but yet another lengthy world tour left Jackson exhausted and at a creative dead end. As he sees it, his workaholic phase – which also included several film scores, a live album (Live 1980-86), an instrumental album (Will Power, 1987), guest appearances with Suzanne Vega, Ruben Blades and Joan Armatrading, and endless touring – was over. 

The 1990s brought some of his most challenging and eclectic works: the gentle, soul-searching Night Music (1994), Heaven and Hell (1997), and the album Joe considers his best (and most underrated): Night and Day II (2000). The turn of the century saw a burst of creativity: Jackson won his first Grammy (Best Pop Instrumental Album for the non-traditional, non-orchestral Symphony No.1) and published his book, A Cure For Gravity. 

In 2003, Joe reformed the original Joe Jackson Band for a stunning new album, Volume 4, and a lengthy tour. The reunion was always intended as a one-off, but it also produced a live album, Afterlife, in 2004. 

Having failed to happily re-establish himself in London, he moved to Berlin, where his next album Rain was recorded in 2007. Consisting of ten powerful, timeless new songs, Rain creates a surprisingly epic sound with just voices, piano, bass and drums. The trio toured for the next three years. A live album, Live Music, was released in 2011.

In 2012, Joe released a tribute to one of his greatest musical heroes, Duke Ellington. The Duke is an often radical re-interpretation of fifteen Ellington classics, arranged into ten tracks, and featuring an eclectic roster of guest artists including Iggy Pop, Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and other members of The Roots, Sharon Jones, Steve Vai, and jazz violin star Regina Carter, who joined Joe on the subsequent tour.

Jackson released the album Fool in 2019, which debuted in the top 20 album charts in Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. In the US, it debuted at No. 25 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales Chart. In the UK, it entered the Indie Albums Chart at No. 13.

After a Covid induced layoff, Joe toured the US and Europe in 2022 for a tour named “Sing, You Sinners!” featuring songs from his catalog plus a few select covers. The tour featured his band Graham Maby on Bass, Teddy Kumpel on Guitar and Doug Yowell on Drums.

November 24, 2023 saw the release of  “Mr Joe Jackson Presents “What A Racket”: The Music Of Max Champion”, a collection of songs written by the long forgotten Music Hall performer Max Champion.

Joe will be out on the road during 2024 touring both the US and Europe performing a 2 part set. First part will be solo performances from his catalog. The second part will feature songs from the What A Racket album performed with a 9 piece band.

Jackson splits his time between New York, Portsmouth, UK, and Berlin.


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