Upon arriving at the 'Phil' half an hour ahead of showtime, I settled myself in the bar / lounge with a Pepsi and unconciously assigned passing patrons as to whether they were here for Joe or Todd. I could see little evidence of fan t-shirts so it became an obsession that seemed to quickly while away any time spent waiting to take my seat, and also it was an area I questioned in the build up to this tour and specific show. By this I mean who is the majority of support going to be for ? After all, this is Joe's country and Todd has hardly had the greatest of success here during his career. Anyhow, I crossed my fingers that the support wasn't too low for Todd, and proceeded into the Hall.
Ethel began the show with a four piece set that really did take classical music to a new level .They were incredibly passionate about their music, and I could easily listen to their set again. The audience listened intently too and really seemed to appreciate the effort that they were putting in to their performance.
Joe Jackson took to the stage shortly after Ethel had finished. To be honest, I didn't own a Joe Jackson album until about two weeks ago when I picked up his greatest hits, because I wanted to at least know a few songs within his set. By the end of his 50 minute set - I was a fan. This was a truly outstanding performance, so many good songs, (most of which weren't on the greatest hits album anyway). The highlight was undoubtedly 'Be My Number Two', a very haunting song that was played to perfection.
So after a twenty minute intermission Todd took to the stage, launching with 'Love Of The Common Man' and complaining that his suit and white shirt was missing a thin tie - "You can't get a thin tie anywhere in this town" ! 'I Saw The Light' saw an interruption by an over-zealous fan and his girlfriend pleading to be allowed to the front of the hall to dance. Todd took it graciously, if slightly embarrassed at this slightly cringe-worthy interruption to his set, and allowed them to slow dance during this track. By the end of the song however, he keenly ushered them back to their seats but not without the girlfriend yelling how much her boyfriend 'loves him' several times. We can appreciate that he does, after all, that's why the majority of us bought tickets.
The set continued and gained momentum with every song played. 'Afterlife' was fantastic, the songs with Todd at the piano were second to none, particularly 'Hawking' - which to be honest stole the show. It was a flawless rendition, impeccably faithful to the original too. 'Song Of The Viking' was great fun, but humour was evident in most of the set. Between numbers there was the usual cries of requests which Todd ignored to begin with, but eventually answered by saying "I appreciate your extensive knowledge of my catalogue, in fact, its probably more extensive than my own" before stating that the day will soon come that 100 songs will be shouted out, while his performance won't cover any of them. At this point, ironic shouts of non-Todd songs began to ring out, much to everyone's amusement.
'Bang On The Ukelele Daily' has its usual introduction - I didn't realise Hawaii was as far as 2000 miles of the coast of America ! A lull while TR changed instruments prompted someone to shout that last time he was in Liverpool was as part of Ringo's All Starr Band, and apparently TR said that he felt he had now paid his debt to the Beatles. This was good timing as he promptly launched into 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away'. The suprise of the evening was Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song', I never thought I'd see him play this live, and he did it with such comic energy and nailed the lyrics too. 'Pretending To Care' followed this, and its a song that I really haven't listened to a great deal over the years. I prefer to flick thorugh 'Something To Fall Back On', 'Johnee Jingo' and 'Mighty Love' from the A Capella album, but to be honest, the combination of Todd's vocal and Ethel's strings made this a real highlight of the evening.
Todd then quickly introduced Joe back on stage for another solo track. This bewildered the audience slightly I think as it was such a quick ending to Todd's solo set, and when Joe introduced his song he gained little applause - not intentionally I'm sure, but simply due to the fast turnaround of performers. TR was back on for 'Stood Up' alongside Joe who sang backing and played piano and a maraca like instrument ! It was a great version of the track, undoubtedly one of my favourites from the 'Liars' album. The show finished with 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' - a great track to end the show, and the audience loved it too with everyone on their feet and several down at the front of the stage dancing.
By the end of that track, my earlier question of where the support lay for tonight was answered. Todd was mobbed, the applause and cheers were deafening with pretty much 80% of it directed to TR. He was obviously appreciative of the warm reception, although Joe seemed slighty ignored, which seemed unfair as he had performed brilliantly. But, the night was Todd's, and I wasn't complaining - a virtuoso, energized performance from the master.