Monday, September 07, 2015

The Killer says farewell to London

Jerry Lee Lewis played what he says will be his final show in London last night at the Sunday Palladium and he bowed out in style. The Killer played for a full hour at the London Palladium, seemed to enjoy himself (mostly) and, even though his voice is not what it was, his piano playing certainly is and he still retains a kind of stage magic.
It's 57 years since his disastrous first UK tour which was cut short when the press learned of his marriage to his 13 year old cousin ('the good old days', he said, tongue in cheek.). Despite that, his career recovered and I remember some amazing shows in the early sixties when he tore concert halls apart. He doesn't climb on his piano any more or create havoc but he is still magnetic. The entire audience stood as he began his set with Drinking Wine Spodie Odie and followed up with Down The Line, but then he slowed things down with She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye. Next came another slowie in the form of Before The Night Is Over. No Jerry Lee show is complete without a complaint about the piano and he claimed it was out of tune, and his curmudgeonly side was further exposed when he complained that his long time guitarist Kenny Lovelace was playing the wrong chord: whether in jest or for real it was hard to tell.
The Killer moved on to Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave - beginning slowly but quickly turning it into a rocker. Rather than a headstone, he would appreciate a 'gold monument', he said. More oldies followed with See See Rider, Sweet Little Sixteen and Why You Been Gone So Long. 'I don't drink no more', he revealed, but 'I don't drink no less either'. Whole Lotta Shakin' followed, with Jerry Lee's voice beginning to go off the note even more, and his version of Over The Rainbow was frankly dire. He recovered with Mexacali Rose before finishing his set with Great Balls Of Fire - an exciting performance which got the audience on to its feet again. As his set ended a huge 80th birthday cake appeared which was presented to him, with Ringo Starr and Robert Plant on stage. This was hardly vintage Jerry Lee, but it was a great show and we can only hope that his farewell tours become regular events. But, as compere Mike Read rightly said, this could be the last great rock and roll show that London will see.
Earlier, the packed hall was entertained by a Swiss boogie woogie pianist called Ladyva and a couple of numbers from Peter Asher and Albert Lee - Bye Bye love and Peter and Gordon's hit World Without Love. There was some fine guitar work from James Burton and Albert Lee on I'm Ready, That's Alright Mama, Hello Mary Lou Goodbye Heart, the instrumental Only The Young, Susie Q (recorded when James was just 14) and Tear It Up On The Dance Floor, and  a good attempt at Delbert McClinton's Why Me from pianist Elio Pace. Jerry Lee's sister Linda Gail Lewis gave her usual gutsy show with some rockers including Let's Talk About Us, Shake Rattle and Roll, Rip It Up, Good Golly Miss Molly and Old Black Joe, supported by her daughter Anne Marie.
But, good though they were, this was just a warm up for the great man, who, on this occasion didn't disappoint.


At 12:44 pm , Blogger Tony Papard said...

Compared to some clips I've seen on YouTube of Jerry's recent shows, I thought he stayed pretty much in tune, though WLS was a bit flat. Many people felt Jerry's hit recording of 'Over The Rainbow' was dire, including Jerry himself when he heard the playback, according to an interview he gave with Tom Snyder years ago. I wonder if he really would have done another song if they hadn't brought the birthday cake on. It is now extremely unusual for him to do another song after Great Balls of Fire, unless he ends the show with Whole Lotta Shakin'.

At 4:23 pm , Blogger gudrunfromberlin said...

Thanks for your review and photos, I was at the show and really enjoyed it to the full. Good vibes and excitement all over the place. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.


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