Rickie Lee Jones @ Islington Assembly Hall
“How come I’m not a big shot?” Rickie Lee Jones states in a recent interview. In the 1980s she wrote and performed some of the nations best loved albums from Pirates, The Magazine, Flying Cowboys and the eponymous Rickie Lee Jones. Her and Tom Waits were lovers and the world was at her feet. In the 1990s she continued to make good albums but as a record deal with Geffen ended so it seemed did the songwriting ability. In the last eighteen months she has been working on a new crowdfunded album The Other Side Of Desire, has moved to New Orleans, Louisiana and appears to be totally rejuvenated.
This, her only UK gig on the tour, is the opportunity for a new swagger and ease to be showed off, a chance to show that her powers of story telling about street life and odd characters are just as strong as before. She does this so well that the songs from The Other Side Of Desire including Jimmy Choos, in which she as a performer oozes cool, sit beautifully next to the catalog of classics and could easily have graced any of those hit albums.
Taking to the guitar for the early part we hear a wonderfully rambling and hypnotic version of Weasel And The White Boys Cool and the beautiful Louisiana tinged newer work Valtz de Mon Pere. Someone from the audience shouts and gets shushes from the crowd, which is initially a good thing and all part of the experience, but later from the piano Jones holds a hand up for people not to hoop and holler and to listen to the ends of the songs.
Even though I think of Rickie Lee Jones as singer songwriter with a guitar it is her piano section of this concert that stirs up the deepest emotions and this is where you feel that the concert is special and that you are so glad to be here. On Saturday Afternoons In 1963 sends a shiver up the spine and that tingling never leaves and actually increases through the new songs Infinity and Finale; (A Spider In The Circus Of The Falling Star). I think that Rickie Lee also picks up on the vibe in the room “What a mystical thing live performance is.” she states.
One more, this time, welcome shout from the audience by a chap who has travelled down from Liverpool to see her “You are sublime! And we are so glad to see you!” As the end draws near we are treated to just Jones and her guitar for a cover of Sympathy For The Devil (and those covers albums are fantastic check out her version of Show Biz Kids) and the haunting The Moon Is Made Of Gold, written by her father.
If there is a way back for Jones then this tour and album has to be the start of it. Her songs presented here in such relaxed effectiveness, that falling in love with her again is the only option.
Photography and review by Simon Jay Price. Rickie Lee Jones at Islington Assembly Hall Sunday October 18th 2015.
Simon has his own great website right here: www.simonjayprice.com