Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Jerry Lee Lewis live

Here's a quick look at the Jerry Lee Lewis shows I've been lucky enough to go to.

16.4.87: The Newport Centre, Newport, Wales.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle/vocals), Linda Gail Lewis (vocals), Phoebe Lewis (vocals), Joel Schumaker (guitar), Harvey 'Duke' Faglier (bass), Danny Harrison (drums), Moetta Stewart (keyboards, vocals) Rockin' My Life Away / You Win Again / Why Don't You Love Me / Mean Woman Blues / Over The Rainbow / Rock & Roll Is Something Special / One Of Them Old Things / Meat Man / Autumn Leaves / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / You Belong To Me / Roll Over Beethoven (with Linda Gail Lewis) / We Live In Two Different Worlds (with Linda Gail Lewis) / When You Wore A Tulip (with Linda Gail Lewis) / Great Balls Of Fire / This World Is Not My Home / Tennessee Saturday Night / Middle Age Crazy / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On ­ You Can Have Her (Medley) My very first concert by the Killer. The day started off with the car breaking down on Plynlimon next to the Elvis sign, but it finished in spectacular fashion. Looking at the track listing it was a pretty varied show and must have run to well over an hour. A couple of things I remember most about the show was why did Jerry Lee need Moetta Stewart on keyboards, and being thrilled that his sister Linda Gail and daughter Pheobe were on backing vocals with him. If the show kicked off at 8, by 8:01 I was totally in love with this man. Before the shows I was an Elvis, Jerry Lee, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Billy Fury man ­ by the end I was a Jerry Lee man only. It's not that they all went down a level, Jerry Lee just went up a few. I was in such a gob-smacked state to finally see Jerry Lee live that I can't even remember Middle Aged Crazy, my favourite song of all time. The one song which I do remember was a brilliant version of Over The Rainbow. Man I would love to relive this concert again, with less of the starry-eyed bewilderment and more of a compos mentis enjoyment.

21.11.89: The Hammersmith Odeon, London, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), James Burton (guitar), Dave Edmunds (guitar), Brian May (guitar), Dave Davies (guitar), Stuart Adamson (guitar), Phil Chen (bass), John Lodge (bass), Jim Isbell (drums), Van Morrison (vocals) Blues At Midnight ­ Boogie Woogie Country Man (Medley) / I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight / You Win Again / Mean Woman Blues / I Am What I Am / Goodnight Irene (with Van Morrison) / What'd I Say (with Van Morrison) / Lucille / Coming Back For More / Jailhouse Rock / Chantilly Lace / Mexicali Rose (slow & fast) / High School Confidential / Rockin' My Life Away / Johnny B. Goode / Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire / Good Golly Miss Molly ­ Tutti Frutti (Medley) / Me & Bobby McGee / High Heel Sneakers / Real Wild Child I remember getting all excited for this show after playing football in Penrhyncoch on the Saturday. With Julie and my sister Sharon again going, together with John and Alan Galbraith, we were all set for an early start on the Sunday when we got news that the gig had been postponed for a week. The following week was bad timing for me as I had to endure the six hour drive with Bombay belly (Julie was sick as a dog the following day). Anyway, what about the show. I remember it being a shock when Jerry Lee came onstage and started playing without the band (I've since read Dave Edmunds' account of it where he said they were all sat around having a beer when they suiddenly heard a loud roar and realised Jerry had just decided to go ahead and start the show). Jerry was brilliant and completely upstaged the guests - that's the megaheads, not Dave and James Burton. It was hysterical when Brian May went posing down the front, sliding on his knees during an ill-conceived solo when his guitar lead came out - he was Unplugged before his time. Van Morrison was abysmal on Goodnight Irene, whining away in a key that must have caused havoc to the local dogs. Whoever the guest, Jerry Lee was the star.

17.4.90: The Leisure Centre, Gloucester, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), Peter Oakman (bass), Jim Isbell (drums)
Roll Over Beethoven / Rockin' Jerry Lee / Trouble In Mind / Hey Good Lookin' / You Win Again / What'd I Say / Jailhouse Rock / I Don't Want To Be Lonely Tonight / Sweet Little Sixteen / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Baby What You Want Me To Do / Blue Suede Shoes / Rockin' My Life Away / The One Rose That's Left In My Heart / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire We met Kenneth Lovelace in the pub before the gig and gave him and Jerry Lee invites for our wedding (needless to say they didn't turn up). This is the show where I was probably the only one at the gig who enjoyed opening act Johnny Dumper. I didn't like the histryonics but I thought his voice was pretty good. Again I loved the show and remember him using the "Hank said to Miss Audrey on bended knee" line during You Win Again. I got to shake his hand at the end of Great Balls Of Fire and my love was cemented stronger than ever. I managed to get his glass off the piano and it still enjoys pride of place at home. I remember a review of the show in Now Dig This saying that Jerry Lee looked so ill and thin, but it was the first time I'd ever got that close, and he seemed fine to me ­ love is blind!!

6.12.92: The N.E.C., Birmingham, England.
Travis Wammack (guitar), James 'Buck' Hutcheson (guitar), ? Velline (bass), 'Monkey' Wammack (drums)
Rockin' My Life Away / Sweet Little Sixteen / C.C. Rider / Johnny B. Goode / High Heel Sneakers / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire
This was one of the those Rock 'n' Roll Revival shows that featues the good and the bad from the early days. Highlights were Lloyd Price and Duane Eddy, lowlights were Boby Vee and worst of all Little Richard. The crowd seemed a bit nervous as word was going around the Arena that Jerry Lee hadn't turned up. After what seemed like an age of waiting, on came the band. Ol' Buck Hutcheson looked as drunk as a skunk as did the Killer when he followed them on. It was a brilliant performance with Jerry obviously relaxed (!) and enjoying himself. He made plenty of sexual references as he wiggled his hips, it was great stuff but the management pulled a finger across the throat to get him finished and after a magic 20 minutes it was all over. That twenty minutes was better than two hours of just about anyone else. I thought afterwards that this must have been what it was like watching Jerry Lee in the Memphis bars during the boozy years.

13.3.93: The King's Hotel, Newport, Wales.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), Leo Green (sax), 'THE RED HOT POKERS' [Ned Edwards (guitar, harmonica), Pete Hurley (bass), Colin Griffin (drums)] Roll Over Beethoven / Fraulein / C.C. Rider / Brown Eyed Handsome Man / Mean Woman Blues / Release Me / Johnny B. Goode / Over The Rainbow / Mona Lisa / Mexicali Rose / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Lewis Boogie / End Of The Road / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Chantilly Lace / Great Balls Of Fire / High Heel Sneakers Until the show in Memphis I remember this as the best Jerry lee gig I'd ever been to. Up close and personal as they say, not sat in some concert hall in a restrained manner. There was a purple patch in this show when he went from Boogie Woogie Country Man to Lewis Boogie to End of the Road where he just blew everyone away. The red Hot Pokers were cooking and seemed to bring out the best in Jerry Lee. It was a hot and sweaty show where everyone in the crowd jostled to retain their view, no-one prepared to give an inch as we breathed in the amazing aura of the greatest showman on the planet. A fantastic night which left me more in love with Jerry Lee Lewis than I thought was possible. I remember on the way home I told Julie that I was now completely fulfilled and didn't care if I never went to another gig in my life.

2.7.98: The Wembley Arena, London, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), James Burton (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums) Down The Line / You Win Again / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Over The Rainbow / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Chantilly Lace / Mean Woman Blues / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire After five long years of waiting I got to see the Killer again in Wembley Arena. What a crap venue, we were sat towards the back and the sound was echoing around the ceiling. Mind you, the tickets only cost about two weeks wages!! Jerry Lee was on first and it was great to see him again, but the intimate setting of the Kings was a long time gone and the performance lacked a bit of excitement because of it. Little Richard was rubbish and Chuck Berry was embarrasing. I had a five hour journey to make back home but decided to sit through Chuck hoping that Jerry Lee might come on stage for a duet. At 5 o'clock in the morning as I sat behind the wheel fighting the eyelids, it was decision I regretted.

11.7.2000: The London Arena, London, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / You Win Again / Boogie Woogie Country Man / Rockin' My Life Away / High School Confidential / Georgia On My Mind / Chantilly Lace / C.C. Rider / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Me & Bobby McGee / Great Balls Of Fire Same line-up and running order as the Wembley gig to years earlier, but the sound was a lot better. Jerry Lee was on great form and I really enjoyed Georgia On My Mind and Me And Bobby McGhee. As always it was an anticlimax when Jerry Lee finished. Little Richard was as excruciating as usual but Chuck Berry finally played a decent show which was a pleasure to witness after so many disappointments.

30.9.2000: Holiday Inn Select, Memphis, TN, USA.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Set list: 3 hours of anything the crowd requested. Five years later I still can't beging to do justice to how amazing a show this was. Jerry Lee on his own patch is quite a thing and when he's trying even harder to please the on-looking Sam Phillips, he's even better. Seeing Sam boogie on down was beyond belief and to meet the two of them after the show was a lifetime ambition realised. Read reviews elsewhere on this site for more drooling.

24.02.04: The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Scotland.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Why You Been Gone So Long / C.C. Rider / Blues At Midnight / Why You Been Gone So Long / Sweet Little Sixteen / She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Trouble In Mind / Chantilly Lace / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire Thanks to BMI Baby me and Phil were able to fly to Scotland to stay with Jerry Lee fanatic Des ? JLL was in fine form but it wasn't quite the cracker we'd hoped for. It was great to hear She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye and I also remembered enjoying Why You Been Gone So Long. I was surprised that the crowd wasn't a bit rowdier but this lack of atmosphere probably came hand in hand with the Killers performance. Great to hear Kenny on the fiddle and Jimmy Rip played some tasty licks throughout.

28.02.04: The Opera House, Blackpool, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Roll Over Beethoven / No Headstone On My Grave / Why You Been Gone So Long / C.C. Rider / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Before The Night Is Over / Sweet Little Sixteen / Trouble In Mind / Lewis Boogie / Mean Woman Blues / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire A better show than Glasgow, Jerry Lee and the band were cooking in Blackpool. Although the set was pretty much the same, there was a lot more urgency tonight and he had the crowd at fever pitch. A lot of Killer fans met before and after the gig and everyone agreed that Jerry was sounding better than he had for over a decade.

29.02.04: The Carling Apollo, Manchester, England.
Kenneth Lovelace (guitar/fiddle), Jimmy Rip (guitar), B.B. Cunningham (bass), Robert Hall (drums), Bill Strom (organ) Roll Over Beethoven / C.C. Rider / Why You Been Gone So Long / You Win Again / Trouble In Mind / Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Sweet Little Sixteen / Chantilly Lace / Lucille / She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye / Before The Night Is Over / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire This show had it all. We got a couple of beautiful country numbers, stinging blues and some hard rock 'n' roll. The crowd were boppin' in the aisles much to the annoyance of the bouncers. There were scuffles to go with the jiving and it all added to the live-wire tension filled atmosphere.

14.07.04: Colston Hall, Bristol, England.
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee / Lucille / You Win Again / Before The Night Is Over / Sweet Little Sixteen / No Headstone On My Grave / Roll Over Beethoven / Chantilly Lace / Mexicali Rose / C.C. Rider / Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On / Great Balls Of Fire Nice opening to show courtesy of the Sugar Creek Trio who played some firecracker rockabilly. Highlights of Jerry Lee's show were Headstone, You Win Again and a stomping Roll Over Beethoven. During the show he seemed a bit put-out by the sound crew who were trying hard to keep him happy ­ their payment was a comment from Jerry, a sarcastic "everyone thinks he's Sam Phillips" with a sly grim to the audience ­ wonderful. A truly great show with JLL absolutely cooking. Sat in the front row, it was great to see a fire in Jerry's eyes. He's great and he knows it, and on this show it seemed like he wanted everyone else to know it.

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