Two far-flung generations of rock ’n’ roll — Wanda Jackson and Best Coast — ring in the New Year with spirit and sass at Club Nokia.
Rock ’n’ roll is still a lively way to begin a new year, and two far-flung generations of music and attitude in the form of rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino welcomed 2012 with a loving roar at Club Nokia on Saturday night. Each led sets that were at times fiery and casual, with the two biting on words of love gone wrong and joking easily about themselves and the night ahead.
In the ’60s and ’70s, Jackson enjoyed a successful middle career as a popular country singer. But she remains best known as “the queen of rockabilly” and today is a vibrant direct link to the first generation of rock ’n’ roll. At 74, she’s inevitably a different singer than she was in the ’50s, but she’s still fired up with power and sass.
“You all look like a beautiful flower garden,” she said warmly to her crowd, adding, “with a weed here and there, of course.”
Arriving onstage barely 20 minutes before midnight, she said, “OK, I’ll bet you’re ready to rock. Why not?” and dived right into an urgent “Riot in the Cell Block #9” and “Rock Your Baby” with hardly a breath in-between.
On “I Gotta Know” from 1956, Jackson eased back and forth from rockabilly snarl to a country lament, singing, “If our love is the real thing, where is my wedding ring?” And her reading of Bob Wills’ forlorn “I Betcha My Heart I Love You” included a yodel that was full and rich with feeling.
Her husband of 50 years, Wendell Goodman, came out to help with the night’s countdown to midnight, with 30 seconds to spare, and she sang a traditional “Auld Lang Syne,” and noted, “If nothing else, you kept breathin’, which by itself makes it a good year.”