The Killer says farewell to London
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.
But, good though they were, this was just a warm up for the great man, who, on this occasion didn't disappoint.