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Joan Jett & The Blackhearts Play The PNE In Vancouver


On Friday night I went to see Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver and it was a fantastic show! Joan was amazing live, she really does have a unique voice and sound that hasn’t ever been replicated. The band sounded solid, I would say they’re one of those bands that sound just as good live (if not better) than on the record. The setting was perfect for a rock show – outdoors at the PNE under a cloudless sky, a huge crowd of loyal fans, and big screens surrounding the central stage so everyone had a good view. The sound was undeniable, you can’t help but sing along with Joan, and even for those who weren’t really familiar with her music – everyone knows “I Love Rock N Roll.”

What was interesting to see was the diverse crowd at this show. There were clearly die-hard Joan Jett fans there who have known her since the beginning with The Runaways before the Blackhearts came into formation. Then at the other end of the spectrum there were a lot of younger people there probably in their early 20’s who have just started to get to know Joan’s music. I feel like whether you’ve been there from the start or are a new fan, the love of music is mutual. It’s pretty cool to see people in their 40’s and 50’s rocking out with kids in their 20’s at the same show. Joan Jett’s music definitely transcends generations.

I started listening to The Runaways and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts after seeing The Runaways movie with Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. It was Kristen’s portrayal of Joan Jett that made me want to get to know her more and to hear more of her music in real life. After seeing the movie in the theatre, the first thing I did when I got home was to start checking out the music. I absolutely loved songs like: I Want You, Don’t Surrender, Light Of Day and Love Is Pain. Those are still my four favourites. It’s been less than a year since I started listening to their music but Joan Jett & the Blackhearts are one of my favourite bands now.

I think it’s great that a movie like The Runaways has opened up this world of 70’s/80’s music to kids who’ve never heard it before. If it means people go out and buy Runaways or Blackhearts music, that someone goes and buys Cherie Currie‘s autobiography Neon Angel, or that people go out to support Joan Jett at a rock show – then that movie has surely done some good. Everyone at that show probably has their own story on how they started listening to Joan Jett’s music, and there was definitely a generation gap, but everyone was there to support the band and enjoy the show which is what really matters. Joan dedicated the show to her mom who passed away the day before so it was pretty emotional to see her up there rocking out in spite of everything. She really is a rock icon.

Here are some of my favourite songs that Joan Jett & the Blackhearts performed at the PNE in Vancouver:

  • Light of Day
  • Crimson and Clover
  • I Love Rock N Roll
  • Bad Reputation
  • Do You Wanna Touch Me?
  • I Hate Myself For Loving You
  • Backlash
  • Love Is Pain
  • Cherrybomb (Runaways)

Check out some more of my photos from the Joan Jett PNE show:

There’s also some pretty cool videos of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at the PNE. Check out RayVanEng’s awesome video of Crimson & Clover / I Hate Myself For Loving You:

Another great video from 1ofakind2u this one is Bad Reputation / Cherry Bomb:

One more awesome video from AngelikaDiana this is I Love Rock N Roll:

Thanks for reading!

[Photos belong to me Twilight Connection aka @theamytweets | Youtube Videos as specified above]

August 30, 2010 Posted by | The Runaways | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Runaways DVD Special Features

The Runaways is just one of those movies you can watch over and over and over again. Having already seen it in the theatre twice, I was still out at HMV buying my copy of The Runaways dvd on Tuesday. Even if you’ve watched the film a few times already, there are some amazing moments in The Runaways worth revisiting.

Runaways Moments Worth Revisiting:

When watching my Runaways dvd for the first time, so many cool things came back to me that I’d forgotten about from the movie theatre. There’s a lot of little moments in the movie that really make it as good as it is – be it transitions, a telling close up shot, or a brief moment of dialogue. I love that transition from Cherie (Dakota Fanning) making a wish in front of her birthday cake before pinching out the lone candle, to Rodney Bingenheimer‘s dark and sultry club with Gary Glitter’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me” blaring in the background.

There’s the telling shot of Joan (Kristen Stewart) walking out of the guitar lesson with MC5’s “It’s A Man’s World” trailing her footsteps. Then there are moments on the road as The Runaways are touring where we see Cherie’s face through a rain-spattered car window passing in the night. Her face is impassive and flickering street lights illuminate her unchanging expression.We see shots of Joan throughout the film trying to keep a strong exterior for her band mates as they struggle with Kim Fowley, the dark side of life on the road, and the pressures of being overnight stars within the music industry.

I love all of Joan’s scenes: the water gun, the headliner’s dressing room, “I Love Playing With Fire,” “Old Smoky,” the recording studio blow up, The Runaways song writing process and later on, her initial formative stages in creating Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. The story really comes together with all of the smaller details put together. The Runaways is definitely a film that pays attention to the little things to get the realism of the film just right. I found that while watching the dvd, the fantastic portrayals of Joan and Cherie by Kristen and Dakota came to life even more with every little nuance they perfected for their respective roles.

Runaways DVD Special Features:

There’s some great behind the scenes footage, particularly of a live set for the Japan concert in which a corset-clad Cherie performs “Cherry Bomb” for the screaming masses.

There’s also a segment on the making of The Runaways with interview clips with Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Cherie Currie, Floria Sigismondi, and various other people involved in the film’s production. Cherie Currie and Joan Jett were on hand to help their movie star selves get into character and aided them in preparing for live performances of The Runaways songs.

Some Runaways Dvd Fun Facts:

  • Kristen learned all of the songs she would be performing in the film even if the studio version of a song was going to be used for a certain scene. She wanted to look, feel, and play the part of Joan in every sense.
  • Dakota likened her closeness with Kristen to the relationship between Joan and Cherie. She noted that her and Kristen had grown close through The Runaways experience just as Joan and Cherie had with the formation of the original band. In an interview clip on The Runaways dvd she says Kristen is her best friend.
  • Dakota Fanning’s favourite Runaways song is “Cherry Bomb” as she got to experience first hand what it’s like to perform the song many times within the movie.
  • Kristen Stewart’s favourite Runaways song is “Love Is Pain.” Kristen sings some lines from this song in the latter half of the movie while smoking a cigarette in a bathtub of murky water.
  • Joan Jett was on set every day to coach Kristen in becoming her character. Kristen says that Joan is the coolest person she’s ever met.
  • Various filmmakers from The Runaways attest to Kristen’s dedication to the project and her serious approach towards paying tribute to Joan and her music rather than simply playing the character.

There’s also a Runaways audio commentary with Joan Jett, Kristen Stewart, and Dakota Fanning that I haven’t checked out yet but I’m sure will be well worth it. Just thought I would share some cool things on the dvd if you haven’t had a chance to check them out yet.

July 26, 2010 Posted by | The Runaways | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway By Cherie Currie

I recently finished reading Cherie Currie‘s book Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway, and it really struck me as something word reading, whether you’re a fan of Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, or the original Runaways band members such as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. This book is very raw, it tells it like it is, and it unabashedly sheds a lot of light on the life and times of Cherie and her Runaways band mates. What’s great about Neon Angel, is that it fills in some of the blanks from the recent Runaways movie. The movie doesn’t feel like it has holes, but once you read this book, so many more details and nuances are filled in and make the whole story richer.

Reading Neon Angel was eye-opening. It instills a much greater appreciation for the ordeals and difficulties these girls experienced at such a young age by being swept up in the music industry. While The Runaways film is definitely what got me to read this book, Neon Angel provides the backbone of The Runaways story and lets us get to know the real Cherie Currie. The movie, and particularly Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning did an amazing job of telling this story for the big screen, but Neon Angel really tells the story from start to finish. The story starts out well before The Runaways and finishes much farther down the road.

Neon Angel lays out in words what we saw on-screen in The Runaways movie, but with personal detail that only Cherie could infuse her story with. I feel like the movie and the book really do go hand in hand because they complement one another so well with telling this story. The Runaways movie gives us the main events, the music, and highlights key moments for the band mates while bringing their story to life. Neon Angel fills in all of the little details, the befores, the afters, and all of the inbetweens. We see a darker side to Kim Fowley, we get to go to more of the parties and meet more of the people, and we go on much more lengthy tours with The Runaways band. At the other end of the spectrum, we get to know Cherie properly before any of the band formations start. She starts out as a 15-year-old in love with glam rock and Bowie, who’s trying to break free of her conventional mold. What I love most about this book is that we get to see the whole progression of Cherie’s life from 15 and innocent, to a rock star Runaway who has grown up at top speed in the fast lane.

Neon Angel has some startling moments and some definitely made me uncomfortable. This book does not attempt to hide anything, it just shows and tells what happened to Cherie, Joan, Lita, Jackie and Sandy. The drug use, the parties, the abuse, the boys, the highs, the lows, and life on the road with the band are described in gritty detail. There are some very dark moments for Cherie, and experiences she had that are not examined in the movie. It’s raw and shocking, but I feel like it needs to be in her memoir, and I applaud her for her bravery and honesty in delving into those past events in order to share them with her audience. Above great story-telling, wit, honesty, and humour, Cherie should be celebrated for her candid recount of her life as a Runaway.

This book also ties together Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in more detail. We see that Joan was Cherie’s constant rock during her time in the band. They lived, breathed, and made music together as an inseparable duo. Even Cherie admits difficulty in trying to define the nature of their relationship, that same sense of ambiguous connection that Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning portrayed so well in the movie. In Neon Angel, we get a further glimpse into the relationship between Joan and Cherie, and how important that was to both of them amidst the chaos and confusion of life in the band.

I’d recommend this book to any music lovers, fans of The Runaways band, fans of Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning and The Runaways movie, and anyone else who loves a good memoir. Cherie’s storytelling is addictive and takes you on a whirlwind ride of 70’s rock and roll. Go pick up a copy of Neon Angel and you’ll see for yourself that this is a story worth sharing – you won’t regret it!

July 19, 2010 Posted by | The Runaways | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Runaways Movie Review

The Runaways blew me away tonight. There’s so many things I loved about it, but most of all the way Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning bring to life two people who my generation haven’t gotten to know. The Runaways movie avoids gimmicky story-telling and lets the lives of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie be told in a way that feels honest. This movie is harsh, brazen, passionate, and electrifying. It is full of meaning, confusion, epic highs and deep lows. It progresses in a way that feels chaotic but natural – which leads me to believe that this movie is as real and authentic as it could get.

As the audience, you go from square one with Joan and Cherie. Joan starts out as someone asking for a chance. By the end of the film you see her fight to keep her dreams alive, and she’s not asking – she’s telling the world who she is and what she stands for. You see Cherie go from an innocent fifteen year old dolled up in a club, to a rock and roll superstar with more fame than she knows what to do with. The set up is dangerous and it’s clever. There’s Joan who’s dreamed of this life and this career. She’s ready and willing to dive in head first. Then there’s Cherie who gets discovered, but gets fame thrown in her face. She isn’t expecting what is suddenly expected of her.

The transitions in The Runaways paint an accurate picture of the disconnect between the quiet suburban life these girls had beforehand and the lifestyle of a rock and roll band. The girls go from practicing in a trailer to playing sold out shows in Japan. Joan goes from being an aspiring musician to what holds The Runaways together. Cherie goes from being a little girl to one who all too quickly grows up. The cuts between Cheri’s modest family home and five-star hotels tell us without the use of words how much the lives of these girls have changed and how quickly.

The Runaways doesn’t shy away from any detail, in fact, it seems to focus in on gritty pivotal snapshots. There’s alcohol in water guns, there’s hook ups and growing up, and there are lots of drugs. The mishaps and mistakes that happen along the way are what make this story believable. It seems heartbreaking but necessary for The Runaways movie to really strike the audience the way it does. I like that this movie didn’t wash over these kinds of details and chose instead to mark them clearly as stepping-stones in the stages of this band’s life together.

Amidst all the chaos, you see this bond form between Joan and Cherie that is simple and beautiful. While Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning both give phenomenal performances in this movie, I think their biggest success is in the way they interact on-screen. They experience what it’s like to be a rock star individually but together, and they lean on each other because of that. Kristen gives Joan’s character this kind of unfailing strength and perseverance while Dakota Fanning responds with the portrayal of an imperfect young Cherie who’s just trying to grow up but not let it happen too quickly.

The music of  The Runaways was the best part of the movie for me. I didn’t really know many of their songs before seeing the movie, so it was great to see some raw 70’s rock being revitalized. Dakota is so good in “Cherry Bomb” – it defines Cherie in the context of the film, and it definitely resonates with the turmoil she goes through. I also loved “Dead End Justice” that Kristen and Dakota both sing lead vocals for. Between the flashing lights, the electric guitar blaring, and their lyrics bouncing back and forth, it was an overwhelming spectacle to witness. It’s raw and edgy rock that you fall in love with instantly.

I’d recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see what Kristen Stewart is really made of or to anyone who loves rock and roll. This movie has done well and will continue to do well because it tells The Runaways’ story in a way that is meaningful to people on different levels. It will mean something to you if you’re a fan of Kristen or Dakota, if you love the original 70’s Runaways band, or if you simply love music and the amazing stories it can tell about people’s lives.

The Runaways tells us about a band that mattered and will continue to matter today with their story being retold.

[Image via fanpop! | Trailer via clevverTV]

March 21, 2010 Posted by | KStew, The Runaways | , , , , , | Leave a comment