Singers Jones, Peyroux join forces for tour

What: Rickie Lee Jones with Madeleine Peyroux
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.
Tickets: $49.50 and $76.50 at the Royal McPherson box office, by phone at250-386-6121, or online at rmts.bc.ca

 

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Rickie Lee Jones and Madeleine Peyroux have not known each other for long, but the singer-songwriters have good reason to be out on tour together.

Jones, 62, and Peyroux, 42, have joined forces for a co-headlining tour that stops tonight at the Royal Theatre, which came about after the two singers recorded a provocative cover of the David Essex hit Rock On. The song was fashioned into a women’s-rights anthem by Jones, who has been outspoken of late about the way women are treated in the music industry.

“I chose Rock On because of the line, ‘Where do we go from here?’ ” Jones said during an interview on National Public Radio.

“Because I wanted to make a film about women’s rights and the rise of women and the resistance to oppression, and so the song seemed like a chance … to rock a little bit and then make a video that had a message.”

Jones, a longtime resident of Los Angeles, moved 15 years ago to New Orleans, in part to resuscitate her career. The move worked wonders for the Grammy Award winner, whose popularity ebbed in the years following her breakout hit from 1979, Chuck E.’s in Love. She struggled to find her place in the modern music industry until a few years ago, when she mounted a concerted comeback with the 2015 album, The Other Side of Desire.

The album coincided with a documentary of the same name, filmed over a year in her adopted hometown of New Orleans; it chronicled Jones and her move to rediscover a passion for music. Free of the drugs that affected her during what could have been her most prolific period, Jones has spoken of New Orleans as the single biggest motivation behind her unexpected return.

During an interview with CBC’s Q, Jones said she has finally been able to process her instant stardom, which decades ago put her on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine twice in two years.

“I don’t think I coped very well [early], to be honest,” Jones said. “I was taking a lot of drugs, from the beginning of my career. I took drugs for two years, but two really critical years. Escaping addiction is one thing, but escaping the stigma of drugs attached to my career has been another one entirely.”

It will be a welcome return for both Jones (who last performed in Victoria in 2000, when she was based in Tacoma) and Peyroux, who last appeared at the Royal Theatre in 2011.

The tour presents Peyroux with the opportunity to see Jones up close and personal, which is a treat, she said. Peyroux has been a follower of Jones for most of her career, and comparisons between the two have been made on several occasions.

“I think I’ll probably learn more than I ever had a chance to,” Peyroux said during her National Public Radio interview.

Jones is no less enchanted by the idea of performing with a singer of Peyroux’s esteemed pedigree, which includes across-the-board praise for her Billie Holiday-like incantations and chameleonic forays into jazz and blues.

“I think sharing this holy night, because that’s what it is, playing music for people,” Jones said of the tour. “It’s very taxing, very emotional, very holy. And sharing that bill with somebody is a really big deal. I’m looking forward to having a really good time. Women can be catty and competitive, and I don’t feel anything like that happening.”

Jones will open the night and Peyroux will close it, after a short intermission. They will both play 75-minute sets.

Peyroux has several directions in which to go musically, having released seven acclaimed studio albums on the Verve, Decca and Rounder labels. Jones will have to address the elephant in the room at some point — Chuck E.’s in Love, a hugely successful song (it reached the Top 5 on the radio charts in 1980) that is invariably tied to the era of her life she has been trying to move past.

For years, Jones refused to play it. She gladly performs Chuck E. nowadays, and has been overwhelmed by the response from her fans.

“I’m at peace with people wanting to hear that song,” she said during her Q interview.

“For a while, I’d say for a decade or so, it annoyed me that they wanted to hear that. How I interpreted that was that everything else was extraneous to hearing that song. But I’m at peace with all. I’m so glad they want to hear anything I do. It’s important to be humble. And that song makes me humble.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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