Jerry Lee Lewis shows how it's done
House of Blues, Anaheim, Cal., Aug. 28 2004
By Dan MacIntosh
ANAHEIM, CA - It's sad to realize that Jerry Lee Lewis is the lone survivor from that 'Big Five' Sun Records gang, a pioneering group that also included the equally iconic figures of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and, of course, Elvis. So it's no overstatement to say that Lewis' audience tonight came for a taste of music history and to bask in the presence of a true living legend.
Although the obviously-aged Lewis played for less than an hour, this patient crowd still spontaneously erupted with whoops, hollers and loud applause the second The Killer ripped through "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire," right before the conclusion of his performance. These moments even made it worth putting up with his backing band's full four-song set, which they heartlessly plodded through before he took the stage, as well as the many dated oldies (such as "Chantilly Lace") that filled out Lewis' mostly unadventurous set list.
The elder Lewis is not quite the scary figure he was back when he first started. In those days, when he had stringy red hair and rolled from town to town showing off his red hot playing, he was truly one great ball of fire. And while he may not have the same commanding presence of old, he can still pound on a piano with real rock and roll spirit and even kick at the keys now and again.
Signs of his advancing age were most prominent in his voice, however, as he mumbled whenever he spoke, and sometimes even when he sang. But the fact that this innovator is still able to sit at the piano and show the youngsters how it is done, is a blessing that should never be taken for granted.
Speaking of the young, this show was opened by The Supersuckers. With its druggy songs (such as "Non Addictive Marijuana") and shaggy grooming, this outlaw-ish band showed off the rebel family line it gladly shares with Lewis and other left-of-mainstream artists.
But on songs like "Peace In The Valley" and especially the gentle "One Cigarette Away," these Supersuckers revealed that they clearly know their way around a real country song. They may sometimes come off looking and sounding like cheeky country music imposters, but deep down inside, this group is the real deal.