Jerry Lee saves the Forum show
Last night's rock and roll triple header at the Forum featured three artists whose combined ages added up to 203. And it was the oldest of the three - Jerry Lee Lewis, aged 73 - who made the place rock. Looking fit and smart in a dark three piece suit he launched into a great version of Roll Over Beethoven and followed up with Headstone for My Grave and Sweet Little Sixteen. With his full band, plus an excellent young English guitarist (James someone - I didn't catch the name) he seemed at ease and beamed with almost fatherly pride during James's solos. As is usual with his sets these days there was as much country as rock and roll, with You Win Again and Crazy Arms the stand-outs, but he pleased the mostly ageing audience by finishing off with Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On. He was on stage for exactly 45 minutes - which again is par for the course these days - but no one seemed to be complaining.
Preceeding Jerry Lee was Wanda Jackson (71), who treated the audience to her hits, including Let's Have a Party, Mean Mean Man and Fujiyama Mama, an Elvis tribute (recalling the days in 1955/6 when she was Elvis's girlfriend), some country material and a bland gospel song. But it was a one paced, pedestrian performance, for which the band has to take much of the blame. There's nothing wrong with Wanda's voice - it's still as 'nasty' as ever - but this was geriatric rock and roll and lacking in excitement.
First act of the evening was Jerry Lee's little sister Linda Gail (a mere 61) who showed once again that she is an excellent female Jerry Lee impersonator. Keeping it in the family, background vocals were performed by daughter Mary Jean.
All in all the London Rock and Roll Festival got off to a slightly shaky start but was saved by Jerry Lee's professionalism and - a rare event - his broad smile. Next up it's Jack Scott on November 8.