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Watch a young Tom Waits deliver a smokey jazz performance of 'Step Right Up'

“I think this whole division between the genres has more to do with marketing than anything else. It’s terrible for the culture of music.”—Tom Waits

Dipping back into the Far Out Magazine vault, we’ve unearthed some wonderful footage of a young Tom Waits strolling onto the stage accompanied by his jazz band.

During the 1970s Waits worked predominantly in the field of jazz. It wouldn’t be until a decade later, in the 1980s, he began to meld the boundaries of genres and drew inspiration from the likes of rock and roll, blues and experimental sounds.

Having been directly influenced by Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation, Waits was still honing his own creative sound in the 1970s and, in July 1976, he recorded and released the album Small Change and was heavily jazz-influenced. Touring the record, Waits headed worldwide in search of a new audience and, on April 18th, 1977, found himself in Germany for a performance on Rockpalast, a German music television show.

Waits, who swapped between standing behind the microphone and perched on his piano stool throughout the performance, was joined by his saxophone player Frank Vicari, Dr. Fitzgerald Jenkins III on the bass and drummer Chip White. With smoke filling the room and Waits riffing his way through each song, his now-iconic gravelling voice encompassed the band with powerful effect.

Below see Waits and the jazz quartet kickstart their set with a rendition of ‘Step Right Up’. The full setlist can also be found further below.

Tom Waits Rockpalast 1977 Setlist:

01 – Step Right Up’
02 – Invitation To The Blues / Eggs + Sausage’
03 – ‘Depot Depot’
04 – Jitterbug Boy’
05 – ‘Pasties And The G-String’
06 – ‘I Wish I Was In New Orleans’
07 – ‘Fumblin’ With The Blues’
08 – ‘Semi Suite’
09 – ‘Emotional Weather Report’
10 – ‘Bad Liver And A Broken Heart’
11 – ‘New Coat Of Paint’
12 – ‘I Can’t Wait To Get Off Work’
13 – ‘The One That Got Away / Small Change’
14 – ‘Band introduction’
15 – ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’