If you ever need proof that rock 'n' roll keeps a person young, make your way to Wanda Jackson concert.
The "Queen of Rockabilly" played to a sold-out State Room Wednesday, and the joint was full of hep cats, pinup girls and an array of others there to worship at the altar of the spry 73-year-old as she tore through 75 minutes of genuine rock classics and tracks from her new, Jack White-produced set, The Party Ain't Over.
Backed by the pliable band Dusty 45s, who did their damnedest to keep up with Jackson despite not having played with her before, the diminutive singer charmed with her sassy between-song banter, whether regaling the audience of tales of teenage tours alongside Elvis Presley or needling members of the band about getting "so high you have to look down to see up."
Jackson's voice, though, is the unmistakable weapon that made her a hero to generations of rock fans. Sure, the joyous rock attitude takes her a long way, but that distinctive growl is what makes her songs timeless. Every time she introduced a song with a line like, "This one is from 1961," the resulting performance could just as easily been from her brand-new album. Times might change, but Jackson stays the same.
She opened with a rough-and-tumble take on "Riot on Cell Block # 9," and it didn't take long for some on the packed dancefloor to start some furious swing dancing as she proceeded to growl, purr and grin through 16 songs.
Among the many highlights were her yodel-filled country tune "I'll Bet My Heart I Love You," a mid-show double-dose of Elvis classics with "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "Heartbreak Hotel," and several tracks from her new set, including "Shakin' All Over," a cover of Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" and a mesmerizing "Nervous Breakdown."
As the show neared its end, the hits got bigger, from the hilarious 1959 tune "Fujiyama Mama" to "Right or Wrong" from 1961. She talked to the crowd briefly about becoming a born-again Christian by way of introducing a rapid take on "I Saw The Light," then it was straight into two monster cuts: "Mean, Mean Man" and her calling card, "Let's Have a Party." After the briefest of encores, she returned with Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and another verse of "Let's Have a Party" before leaving the crowd sweaty, cheering and dying for another visit.