» 05.07.86 - Cohasset,
MA - South Shore Music Circus
» 14.07.90 - Munster, Germany - Halle Muensterland
» 19.07.97 - Essen, Germany - Grugahalle
» 20.07.97 - Berlin, Germany - Wuhlheide
» 15.07.98 - Oberhausen, Germany - Arena
» 18.07.98 - Berlin, Germany - Columbiahalle
» 23.07.98 - Munich, Germany - Olympiahalle
» 26.07.98 - Budapest, Hungary - Kisstadion
» 01.08.98 - Esbjerg, Denmark - Circuspladsen
» 15.08.98 - Westbury, NY - Westbury Music Fair
» 02.06.99 - Holmdel, NJ - P.N.C. Bank Arts Center
» 03.12.99 - Morristown, NJ - Community Theater
» 13.06.00 - Las Vegas, NV - Caesars Palace
» 17.06.00 - Las Vegas, NV - Caesars Palace
» 04.07.00 - Mannheim, Germany - Maimarkthalle
» 09.07.00 - Bromolla, Sweden - Strandangen
» 01.12.00 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
» 30.12.00 - Atlantic City, NJ - Resorts Casino
» 19.01.01 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theatre
» 13.04.01 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
» 07.06.01 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Blues Festival
» 04.07.01 - Jacksonville, FL - Metropolitan Park
» 07.07.01 - Irvine, CA - Hootenanny Festival
» 22.07.01 - Antibes, France - Juan Les Pins
» 18.10.01 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
05.07.86 - Cohasset, MA - South Shore Music Circus
Review by Scott Wheeler
South Shore Music Circus,
Cohasset, MA. USA, 5 July 1986
By Scott Wheeler
(originally published in The
Brockton, MA. USA on 7 July 1986)
The musical domain of Chuck Berry, the man who “wrote the book on rock and roll,” can legitimately be said to extend beyond the farthest reaches of the solar system--and that’s not just a cliche from an overzealous fan. Berry’s most renowned opus, “Johnny B. Goode,” the story of a starstruck country boy who “carried his guitar in a gunny sack,” was included (at the insistence of astronomer Carl Sagan) in the grooves of two special, gold-plated copper records affixed to the Voyager I and Voyager II spacecraft launched by NASA in 1977.
The man responsible for launching rock and
roll into the universe at large, Chuck Berry
himself, touched down at the South Shore Music Circus on Saturday night and thoroughly
charmed a delighted capacity crowd with a generous sampling from his time-tested bag of
Berry was born in St. Louis, the son of a
construction engineer. During the mid-1940s he
served three years in reform school for attempted robbery. Upon his release he earned a degree
in hairdressing and cosmetology at night school. He also became a husband and father, and
took an assembly-line job at a General Motors plant.
Berry formed his first group, a trio, in
1952, and supplemented his beautician income by
working regular weekend gigs at various St. Louis-area blues clubs.
In 1959, at the height of his career, Berry
was charged with violating the Mann Act after
it was discovered that he had brought a 14-year-old prostitute from Texas to St. Louis
to check hats at a nightclub he ran. He was found guilty and was sent to federal prison
for several years. His wife left him, his career foundered, and he became profoundly
By the time Berry was released from prison
in 1964 rock and roll’s British Invasion was
in full swing, with groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones featuring Berry's
songs on their albums and introducing his trademark guitar riffs to hordes of eager
teen-age audiences, many of who had been too young in the '50s to appreciate Berry firsthand.
Since 1970 Berry has written and recorded
only occasionally but has kept up a busy schedule
of concert appearances. He recorded his most recent album, Rockit, in 1979, and appeared
in the film American Hot Wax that same year. When not performing on the road, Berry stays at
Berry Park, a combination country club and amusement park he built in Wentzville, Missouri,
30 miles south of St. Louis.
On Saturday night Berry’s backup band-a
trio of fresh-faced young musicians, including
an attractive blonde pianist-took the stage and laid Berry’s guitar case down in front
of his amplifier. Then Berry made his entrance, striding down the aisle to tumultuous
applause and cheers. He wore a riotous, multicolored shirt, yellow slacks, and shiny,
black patent-leather shoes.
While the cheers continued Berry went
around the stage and shook hands with each of his
backup musicians, giving the clear impression that he was meeting them for the first time.
Then he flipped open his guitar case, extricated a guitar and a hopelessly tangled guitar
cable, and spent several minutes sorting out his equipment and getting his guitar roughly
in tune. “See,” he told the crowd cannily, “if I had my stuff together, I’d already be in tune.”
Berry then treated his audience to an
engrossing but curiously unstructured, one-hour show
that raised as many questions about him as it answered. He touched on nearly every one
of his major hits, much to the crowd’s delight, but throughout the show he kept
un-self-consciously garbling his lyrics and switching lines from one song to the other,
while laconically giving out muffled, ultra-simplified versions of the trademark guitar
riffs he had made world-famous 30 years before.
Frequently he baffled his accompanists by
dropping out whole sections of songs or
prematurely ending them with a surprise closing chord and a sly wink. Did he remember
the original? Did he really care? Did it really matter?
For all the looseness, the crowd loved
every minute of it. They erupted into wild cheers
when Berry broke into his famous duckwalk for a few seconds, and gave him a standing
ovation when he broke into “Johnny B. Goode” in the middle of the set.
Berry further charmed and confounded his
audience at one point by launching into a brief
rendition of the old Harry Belafonte calypso hit “Kingston Town,” followed by Nat King Cole's
“Ramblin’ Rose,” in which he good-naturedly coaxed the audience into singing along.
“You know,” Berry told the crowd at the
close of the “Ramblin’ Rose” sing-along, “I love
comedy, and I think of myself as a comedian. It’s funny how easy it is to lead the American
people on. I just asked you to put a little more 'oomph' in the last verse, and you sure did.
“Of course, now,” he continued,
“Reagan ... it’s okay for me to complain about a senior
citizen, because I am one. The young folks won’t understand that, but I know the senior
citizens in the audience will. I’m glad to be here...I’m glad to be anywhere!”
Berry closed the show with a rousing
version of “Reelin’ And Rockin’” in which he invited
the audience to join him onstage to dance. A dozen or more enthusiastic members of the
audience-many of them young enough to be Berry’s grandchildren-obligingly dashed up onstage
and swarmed around him in a delighted frenzy of dancing.
In the midst of the number Berry discovered
his amp had become unplugged, and he ended up
awkwardly working his way around the amp and through the crowd of dancers to trace the
amp's power cord back to its socket.
He joined one particularly animated fan in
a few moments of duckwalking, and then,
grinning broadly and perspiring heavily, dove through the crowd and made his way back up
the aisle and out of the tent, holding his guitar high overheard and out of reach,
leaving the backup band and the dancers to wind down the number on their own.
Copyright 2002 Scott Wheeler
Berry, Supercharge, Maike Köhne Band
14.07.90 - Munster, Germany - Halle Muensterland
Review by Stefan Lind / Westfalen-Blatt
Chuck Berry: Gelangweilt und stümperhaft
"Supercharge" stahl in der Halle Münsterland dem Rock'n'Roll-Altmeister die Schau
Von Stefan Lind
Münster (WE), Der Mann darf sich in
Münster und Umgebung wohl nicht mehr sehen lassen. In nur einer Stunde gelang
es Chuck Berry, tobende Fans in eine Versammlung frustrierter Konzertbesucher zu verwandeln. Der Rock'n'Roll-Heroe
der 50er Jahre wurde seinem Ruf am Samstag in der Halle Münsterland wieder einmal gerecht. Gelangweilt spulte
er sein Programm ab und verschwand nach 59 Minuten ohne Zugabe. Die wollte allerdings auch niemand mehr hören.
Wie gut, daß die Organisatoren ein Vorprogramm auf die Beine gestellt hatten. Völlig fehl am Platze war zwar
die Maike Köhne Band, die mit ihrem hochglanzpolierten Industrie-Pop völlig am Publikum vorbeispielte. Ganz
anders dagegen die Raktionen auf "Supercharge". Saxophonist Albie Donnelly und seine Leute stahlen "Onkel Chuck"
nach allen Regeln der Kunst die Schau, heizten den Fans so richtig ein. Rock'n'Roll, Funk, Soul und Swing brachten
die Halle so zum Toben, daß schon das Licht eingeschaltet werden mußte, um weitere Zugaben zu verhindern.
Als dann Chuck Berry kam, kannte der Jubel
keine Grenzen. Der Altmeister fummelte erst einmal minutenlang an seinem
Verstärker herum und ließ dann ein scheußliches Instrumentalstück folgen. "Roll Over Beethoven" konnte anschließend
angesichts Berrys stümperhafter Klampf-Versuche ebenfalls die hohen Erwartungen nicht erfüllen. Als ihm schließlich
bei "School Days" der Text abhanden kam, merkten auch die hartgesottenen Fans, was ihnen blühte.
Doch es kam noch schlimmer. Eine farbige
Schönheit sang mit Inbrunst endlose Blues-Nummern, der Meister versteckte
sich in einer Bühnenecke und spielte weiter falsch. Selbst der berühmte "Entengang" bei "Maybelline" konnte Berry
nicht mehr helfen, die Pfiffe wurden immer lauter. Zum Schluß durften ein paar Fans auf der Bühne tanzen, aber bitte
nicht zu nah beim "Chef". Ein kräftiger Griff des Ordners, und der Tänzer flog im hohen Bogen in die Massen zurück.
Der Star zog es vor, sich zu verabschieden. Es war auch besser so...
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
19.07.97 - Essen, Germany - Grugahalle
Review by Ulrich Holesch & Rainer Brackelmann
Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry und Little Richard in der Essener GRUGA-Halle
Begonnen hat dieses ungewöhnliche
Konzertereignis in der Essener Gruga-Halle
gleich mit einem Ärgernis. Horst Fascher, ehemaliger Betreiber des „Star-Club"
in Hamburg und Veranstalter der „Legends-Tour" hatte dem WILLI-Herausgeber ein
persönliches Fax geschickt mit dem Versprechen, an der Kasse zwei Pressekarten
zu hinterlegen. Frau Hennemann, lediglich Mitarbeiterin des örtlichen Durchführers
Klaus Goik, einigen Hammern sicherlich noch in Erinnerung, ignorierte dieses
Versprechen und wollte uns nicht in die Halle lassen. Nun wollten wir uns von
dieser Dame nicht den Abend versauen lassen und kauften uns Karten vom „Schwarzmarkt",
wo es noch reichlich davon gab. Das Security-Personal sah unsere professionellen Kameras,
vermutete in uns Vertreter der Presse, was ja nicht ganz falsch war, und ließ uns
in Bühnennähe weitestgehends in Ruhe. Das Konzert begann pünktlich um 20.00 Uhr
mit dem „Killer", Jerry Lee Lewis.
Mit „Ladies and Gentlemen, The
Jerry Lee Lewis All Star Band" angekündigt,
betraten drei Herren im Smoking, (Gitarre, Bass, Drums) und eine Dame am Piano
die Bühne und legten los. Noch ohne Jerry Lee, aber der Gitarrist war kein g
eringerer, als James Burton, der ehemalige langjährige Begleiter vom „King"
Elvis Presley. Schon eigenartig, hatte doch sein jetziger Arbeitgeber einst
vor „Graceland", dem Wohnsitz seines früheren Chefs mit der Knarre ´rumgeballert
und lautstark verkündet, er, Lewis, sei der eigentliche King und nicht Elvis.
Aber man ist ja nicht nachtragend. Die Band war beeindruckend gut, wen wundert´s,
und nach dem zweiten Song trat James Burton an´s Mikro und sagte den legendären
Jerry Lee Lewis (Foto oben) an. Der kam, ebenfalls im Smoking, etwas klapprig schon,
aber mit frenetischem Beifall empfangen, auf die Bühne und begann seine Show mit
„C.C. Rider", einem Klassiker des Rock´n Roll. Jeder Song, den er brachte, war
ein solcher Klassiker, ob es nun purer Rock´n Roll war, wie „High School Rock",
oder „Shake Rattle and Roll" oder ein Country Song wie z.B. „Hey good looking"
von Hank Williams. Jerry Lee spielte Klavier wie in alten Zeiten, mit dem Fuß
ebenso wie mit dem inzwischen schon fast 70jährigen Hintern, was von der
ca. 7000köpfigen Menge mit gewaltigem Szenenapplaus bedacht wurde. Nach
„Great Balls Of Fire" war das außergewöhnliche Konzert einer lebenden Legende
beendet, ohne Zugabe ging das Saallicht an. Nach fünf Minuten, als es keiner
mehr zu hoffen wagte, stand die Band mit ihrem Boß plötzlich wieder auf der
Bühne und lief noch mal zu Höchstleistungen an mit „Jail House Rock" und
„Hound Dog", der Jubel war unbeschreiblich. Ein wunderbares Ereignis.
Nach einer ca. 20minütigen Umbaupause
wurde der zweite Star dieses Abends angesagt,
Chuck Berry, der Mann, der so vielen Rock-Stars ein Vorbild gewesen ist. Mein Gott,
wenn die den an diesem Abend hätten sehen können . . ! Bekleidet mit einer knallroten
Hose, einem bunten Hemd und einer Kapitänsmütze begann er mit „Roll Over Beethoven"
und lieferte das schlechteste Konzert ab, welches ich jemals gesehen habe. Es war eine
Ohrfeige für jeden, der eines der sehr teueren Tickets gekauft hatte. Es ist eine
Frechheit, was Mr. Berry seinen Fans zumutet, es hat ihn überhaupt nicht gestört,
wenn er die falschen Harmonien griff, er spielte einen falschen Ton nach dem anderen
und wenn er vergaß, was er hätte spielen müssen, hörte er einfach auf. Ich finde,
auch eine Rock´n Roll Legende sollte sollte sich nicht auf den Lorbeeren ausruhen
dürfen, die sie sich vor vierzig Jahren einmal erworben hatte. Jede andere Band
wäre mit Bierdosen und Buhrufen von der Bühne gejagt worden, Chuck Berry aber wurde
vom Publikum bejubelt. Das verstehe, wer will. Ein wahrer Ausspruch meines Freundes
Rainer: „Der braucht einen Gitarristen, der das spielen kann, was er meint." Zudem
wurde der Fotografin der BILD-Zeitung und dem WILLI-Fotografen Rainer Brackelmann v
on dem Security-Tarzan Wolfram Cieslik der Film aus der Kamera abverlangt.
Allerdings kann ich nun verstehen, warum Chuck Berry nicht geknipst werden wollte.
Dieses Konzert muß der Nachwelt wirklich nicht erhalten bleiben.
Ganz anders dagegen war es schon wieder bei
Little Richard. Mit sicherlich 15 Musikern,
alle in glitzernden Kostümen, exzellent auf ihren Instrumenten lieferte der quirlige
und top-fite Rock´n Roll-Star eine perfekte Show im Las-Vegas-Stil ab, die nicht
nur durch ihre absolute Musikalität beeindruckte, sondern auch durch die
Persönlichkeit des Little Richard, der ein geborener Show-Star ist und immer
war. „Lucille", „Tutti Frutti" und, und, und . . . sind und bleiben unvergessene
Klassiker der Musikgeschichte, das war an diesem Abend deutlich zu spüren.
Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry
und Little Richard sind trotz allem, oder vielleicht
gerade deshalb, die letzten noch lebenden Legenden des Rock´n Roll und werden einst,
zusammen mit dem „King", in der Ruhmeshalle ihren Platz finden.
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
20.07.97 - Berlin, Germany - Wuhlheide
Review by Peter E. Müller
Rüstige Rentnergang des Rock'n'Roll
Chuck Berry, Little Richard und Jerry Lee Lewis in der regennassen Wuhlheide-Freilichtbühne
Von Peter E. Müller
Blau und gelb sind die vorherrschenden
Modefarben in der Freilichtbühne an der Wuhlheide.
Wer keinen Schirm hat, watet eben in Plastikmüllsack oder Öljacke durch das windige Feuchtbiotop,
in dem gleich drei Könige des Rock'n'Roll standhaft dem Regenwetter trotzend hofhalten. Es sind
drei Entertainer, die alle kräftig an der Wiege des Rock 'n' Roll mitgeschaukelt haben: Chuck Berry,
Little Richard und Jerry Lee Lewis; eine rüstige Rentnergang, die noch immer den Rhythmus in den
Knochen und den Rock'n'Roll im Blut hat.
Wer weiß? Ohne sie wäre vielleicht so
manches in der Geschichte der populären Musik anders verlaufen.
Sie standen alle an einem aufregenden Anfang, der den Siegeszug der Rockmusik losgetreten hat.
Sie haben die Popmusik revolutioniert - und gar nicht gewußt, was sie da anzetteln. Chuck Berry
zum Beispiel, der heute 66jährige Sänger und Gitarrist aus St. Louis, der den regnerischen Abend
in der Wuhlheide mit seinem "Roll Over Beethoven" eröffnet. Er hatte Mitte der fünfziger Jahre schwarzen
Blues und weiße Country-Music mit frechen Teenager-Texten, straffem Beat und elektrifizierter Gitarre angereichert -
und heraus kamen Songs, die zu Meilensteinen auf dem amerikanischen Rock-Highway wurden.
Mit einem ungeheuer dumpfen Gitarrensound und
einer gediegenen Drei-Mann-Band an Piano, Baß und
Schlagzeug im Rücken wühlt sich Berry eine gute Stunde lang durch ein Repertoire der Ohrwürmer von
"Hail Hail Rock'n'Roll" bis "My Ding-A-Ling", nicht ohne zwischendurch mit "When Things Go Wrong" seine
Blueswurzeln zu beschwören. Und bei "Johnny B. Goode" holte er sich Fans aus dem Publikum zum Tanzen
auf die Bühne. Man hat die ganzen Klassiker in den vergangenen Jahren ehrlich gesagt alle schon mal besser
gehört, auch von anderen Interpreten. Aber Chuck Berry hat sich diese juvenilen Hymnen ausgedacht. Hier
verspielt sich immerhin das Original. Applaus.
Und nein, keine Zugabe. Nach kurzer
Umbaupause geht's weiter im Programm mit dem selbsternannten
"originator, emancipator, architect of Rock and Roll", Little Richard, 1932 als Richard Wayne Penniman
in Macon/Georgia geboren. Kaum ein Musiker, von Elvis Presley über die Beatles bis zu Prince, der nicht
auch ihn als als prägendes Vorbild anführt. Mit seinem Megahit "Tutti Frutti" und dem Schlachtruf
"A-Wop-Bop-A-Looba A-Wop-Bom-Boom" avancierte der schrille Paradiesvogel 1955 zu einem
quirligen Liberace des Rock, konvertierte später zum Adventisten-Prediger, feierte in den
achtziger Jahren aber ein glanzvolles Comeback. "Are You Ready To See Me?" fragt er die rund viereinhalbtausend
Besucher im Wuhlheidenrund. Keine Frage.
Die Show ist ähnlich wie im vergangenen Jahr
im Tempodrom, nur straffer, des Zeitplans wegen.
Seine zehn Musiker - zwei Gitarristen, zwei Bassisten, zwei Schlagzeuger, zwei Saxophonisten,
ein Trompeter und ein Keyboarder - walzen wuchtig und mitunter in irrsinnigem Tempo durch das
Repertoire von "Good Golly, Miss Molly" über "Bamalama Bamaloo" bis zu "Lucille", auch Shaun und James,
die beiden durchtrainiert-lasziven Tänzer, hüpfen und hampeln wieder ausgelassen übers Areal. Und der
Bühnenarbeiter, der alle paar Songs die Bühne vom Regenwasser freischrubbt, hat inzwischen längst
Running-Gag-Status und bekommt Zwischenapplaus.
Büchlein mit Autogrammkarten werden auch
wieder verteilt. Wer mit gierigen Händen eine der Gratisgaben
ergattert hat, kann eine schlecht gedruckte Little-Richard-Postkarte und die Adventisten-Schrift "Der bessere
Weg" als Bettlektüre mit nach Hause nehmen. Und nein, wieder keine Zugabe. Nach längerem Umbau nimmt
Jerry Lee Lewis die Bühne in Beschlag. Das heißt, erst einmal spielt sich seine Band durch mehrere Songs
hindurch warm, was zu Unmutsäußerungen im Publikum führt und die blondmähnige Sängerin Phoebe Lewis,
die 1963 geborene Tochter von Jerry Lee und Myra Lewis, von der Bühne und den "Killer" endlich ans
weiße E-Piano treibt.
Lewis ist mit seinen 61 Jahren der Youngster
in diesem Triumvirat - und wirkt wie der Stubenälteste.
Männer in schwarzen Anzügen spielen beinharten Rock'n'Roll. Lewis spult sein knappes Repertoire ab,
wirkt etwas hölzern und lustlos, aber zumindest routiniert. Wieder Klassiker zuhauf. "High School Confidential",
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" und "Great Balls Of Fire". Hier singt der Chef. Und mit einem Elvis-Medley aus
"Jailhouse Rock" und "Hound Dog" gibt's sogar noch eine Zugabe an diesem feuchten und doch fröhlichen Abend
voller "Old Time Rock and Roll" und einer geballten Ladung geradezu rührender Nostalgie.
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
15.07.98 - Oberhausen, Germany - Arena
Review by Kai Going
saw Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry who are currently touring
Europe as the
"Legends of Rock'n'Roll" on July 15th, 1998 at the Arena in Oberhausen, Germany.
Approximately 1500 to 2000 fans had gathered to witness this great event.
Last year the had given concerts in Bremen, Hamburg (Lewis wasn't able to perform with his band -
he was drunk in the hotel), Berlin and Munich so that many folks saw the "Legend" show for the second time.
I had a reserved
seat on the balcony but forsook it in favor of a standing spot in the first row.
Being separated from the stage by about 25 meters, I could see everything fairly well.
To my utmost delight (I'm a piano fanatic), a big, shiny grand piano (might have been a Steinway)
was on stage and made it clear that Lewis and Little Richard were going to use it. The year before,
rockin' Jerry Lee had pissed almost everybody off in Berlin because he refused to play on Little Richard's
majestic white grand piano and used a stupid keyboard instead.
At exactly 8:00
Kenny Lovelace, James Burton, a drummer and a bass player came on stage and
kicked it off with a rolling version of My Babe. As usual Kenny did the vocal part.
He may not be a great singer but was clearly enjoying himself and delivered solid Rock'n'Roll.
Afterwards he called
Jerry Lee's daughter, Phoebe Lewis, to do a couple of songs.
She sang I'm On Fire and a countrified rendition of Hang Up My Rock'n'Roll Shoes.
Nothing spectacular but nobody can deny that she surely knows how to sing and has got a very pleasant voice.
Then Kenny called the Killer on stage. The guy next to me had some binoculars and
after I'd snatched them away from him, I could see that Jerry Lee looked very healthy
and seemed to be in a good mood. He performed about 30 minutes.
His piano playing
was all right but certainly not satisfactory. He didn't play hard enough for my
On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't have listened to his 1964 masterpiece Live At The Starclub before...
He's thirty years older nowadays. There were no stage antics at all. He kept sitting on his piano stool until the last song,
then got up, kicked it away, touched the ivory keys with his butt and left. After his blues treatment of C.C. Rider,
it was absolutely quiet and I hollered Lewis Boogie at the top of my lungs. The Killer said: "A little boogie don't hurt nobody",
so that I thought to myself: "All right, he's gonna do it!". To my "disappointment" he stomped through
Boogie Woogie Country Man instead. The P.A. system was excellent and his piano sounded fantastic.
After beginning Lucille and doing it for about a minute, he broke off and yelled: "Hey, that´s Little Richard´s song.
I ain't supposed to fool around with another guy's material."
In general I'd like
to add that Lewis' shows in the late 90's are similar to Elvis' performances in
the late 70's
in terms of the material which is "over done". Jerry Lee Lewis has probably recorded more than 1000 songs in his
career but keeps on playing the same standards over and over again. He's one of the best piano players and singers
in the world but doesn't seem to get bored with those ditties. Why? Great Balls Of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
are obviously his trademark songs and he's bound to play them every time. That's perfectly all right. But why the hell
can't he do Pumping Piano Rock, Crazy Arms or even some material from Young Blood every once in a while?
His show was absolutely predictable and the only "surprising" song was Why You Been Gone So Long.
Even that one wasn't completely out of the blue as he'd played it in Denmark in 1997.
Lewis has become ultra professional in the 90's. Walks on stage. Does his standards.
Usually leaves after 45 minutes (if he's in an evil mood you might only see him for 15 minutes or less).
Oh, Killer, you've become too tame! Here is the complete song list:
My Babe (Kenny
I'm On Fire ( Phoebe Lewis)
Hang Up My Rock'n'Roll Shoes (Phoebe Lewis)
Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee
Boogie Woogie Country Man
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
Why You Been Gone So Long
Great Balls Of Fire
The next act was
Little Richard. His band consisted of two drummers, 1 organ player, 3 guitar
1 trumpet player and 2 saxophone players. With the awesome brass section, he did sound a little bit like
the great Fats Domino. Anyway, he wore a blue suit and the first thing he did was to climb onto the piano and
wave to his fans. He got standing ovations before he´d even touched the keys one single time.
His first song Good Golly Miss Molly was wilder than all of Lewis' songs of that evening together.
Little Richard really pounded the hell outta that piano and his brass section was playing to the fore.
He was screaming, yelling and squalling and really seemed to have lost his mind.
with the usual "originator, architect, emancipator of Rock'n'Roll"
stuff came his standards Tutti Frutti,
Long Tall Sally, Lucille, All Around The World and I Can Hear You Knocking. Unlike Lewis though,
he did three or four surprise songs including Blueberry Hill, Hank Williams' Jambalaya and Lennon/McCartney's
I Saw Her Standing There and Be Bop A Lula. All the songs lasted at least 4 minutes, most of them way longer.
Unfortunately he dared to leave the piano for at least half of the songs and walked around on stage.
Sweet lord have mercy!
They give him a $
50.000 grand piano and he doesn't use it! I had the feeling that he had actually
intended to do
several songs without the piano beforehand. He'd gotten halfway through Jambalaya - which has been done by
Moon Mullican and Fats Domino on the piano so often - sat down on the stool, looked like he was waiting for
the right moment to join in on the piano but didn't do it. Ain't that a shame! He'd proven that he was still
capable of high energy piano playing with Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally but embarrassed himself by leaving the piano.
At one point during the show, he had the "wild" idea to promote his "God's ambassador of peace" message and
called for Mexicans, Blacks, Indians, Italians, etc. to come on stage. Boy, being in the heart of Germany you won't find
any of those fine people. That's almost like asking for "Kentucky Fried Chicken" in Russia. In the end he said:
"All right, all you Germans come up!" I was on my way but a damn security guard wouldn't let me on because
10 folks were already standing left and right of him. He jammed through a song which he'd just made up called
something like Let Them Up and everybody was shaking it big time! If Little Richard had played more piano,
his would have definitely been the act of the night. Bullet speed vocal delivery. Awesome band. Wild show.
Age 65. Turning 66 later this year. In direct comparison Lewis' show was shorter but I liked it better.
The Killer knew his place! Here is the complete song list:
Good Golly Miss Molly
Bama Lama Bama Loo
I Saw Her Standing There
Let Them Up
Be Bop A Lula
All Around The World
Keep A Knockin'
Long Tall Sally
announced Chuck Berry who is over 70 years old as one of the "pioneers of Rock'n'Roll".
Chuck wore red pants and a captain's cap. He looked a little bit fragile but his
overall physical appearance seemed fine.
The biggest surprise for me was his band: a drummer, a bass player and, yes mam,
an unknown piano player
who had set down on the stool which had been occupied by Little Richard and the Killer before.
I have to admit
that even though I do know most of the 50s Berry classics,
I'm not very familiar with his later material.
Well, he kicked off his performance with Roll Over Beethoven and the only other songs
I recognized were Johnny B. Goode, Carol, Sweet Little Sixteen and Little Queenie.
His piano player stole the show. He did many manic piano runs and ol' Chuck asked him
several times to replay a solo.
On a couple of songs, Chuck leaned on the piano and jammed along with his guitar.
Additionally, he did three or four slow, very bluesy songs that I enjoyed very much.
At one point Chuck
wanted 12 girls to come on stage to boogie a little bit with him. The first
woman to submit
to his wish was such a knockout that he just kept staring at her while playing. She was in her twenties and lord,
if you've ever listened to his Little Queenie you know what I'm talking about. She looked "like a model from
a cover of a magazine" and due to her long slender legs was much bigger than Chuck. She must've seen "Showgirls"
a couple of times judging by her hot, sexy moves...
above the law. He's written some of the greatest songs in Rock'n'Roll history
and even though
he has never been a truly great performer like Lewis or Little Richard, you ain't live until you heard him do
Johnny B. Goode. He did an honest show and managed to do a short "duck walk". Nothing more, nothing less.
Solid craftsmanship. No major screw ups. Here is the complete song list:
Roll Over Beethoven
Sweet Little Sixteen
Let It Rock
Mean Old World
Honest I Do
Johnny B. Goode
You Never Can Tell
Reelin' And Rockin'
I had paid about $
50 for the ticket and have to say it was worth the money. Lewis was my favorite
and the reason
why I'd gone there in the first place. All three performers are legends in their own right and
certainly don't have to prove nothing to anybody any more. Hey, they're basically old men and maybe my expectations
were a little over the top. Who knows. I'll tell you in forty years...
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
18.07.98 - Berlin, Germany - Columbiahalle
Review by H.P. Daniels
Chuck Berry, Little Richard und Jerry Lee Lewis haben Mitte der Fünfziger Jahre
eine aufregend neue
Musikrichtung entscheidend mitgeprägt; sie waren die "Architekten des Rock 'n' Roll" (Little Richard).
Chuck Berry hat mit seinen unverwechselbaren
Riffs und Licks ganze Generationen von Gitarristen
beeinflußt, von denen Rolling Stone Keith Richards einer der prominentesten sein dürfte.
Little Richards' kreischend hysterischer Gesangsstil fand seine fast perfekte Kopie in Paul McCartneys
frühen Beatles-Jahren; die hohen Kiekser hört man heute noch gelegentlich bei Michael Jackson.
Und jeder Rock'n'Roll Pianist, der etwas auf sich hielt, lernte seine Lektionen von Jerry Lee Lewis:
Wilde Glissandi über die komplette Tastatur.
Viele waren neugierig, was die alten Rock 'n'
Roller vierzig Jahre nach ihren größten Erfolgen heute
noch auf die Bühne stellen. Und so strömte ein bunt gemischtes Publikum am Sonnabendabend in die
Columbiahalle als ginge es zum Deutsch-Amerikanischen Volksfest.
Von Chuck Berry ist bekannt, daß er nie mit
eigener Band unterwegs ist. Vom Veranstalter läßt er sich
von Ort zu Ort lokale, meist drittklassige Begleitmusiker auf die Bühne stellen, die er weder vorher gesehen,
noch mit denen er auch nur einen Ton geprobt hatte. Seine Konzerte waren immer ein Glücksspiel.
Mehr Nieten als Treffer. Doch diesmal gibt es den Hauptgewinn. Die Band ist gut. Unaufdringlich aber
präzise dirigiert ein unbekannter Bassist seine unbekannten Kollegen an Klavier und Schlagzeug, reagiert blitzschnell
auf Berrys ungeplant spontane Songanfänge und signalisiert dem Pianisten die entsprechenden Tonarten
mit geheimen Handzeichen.
Beeindruckend der umwerfende Charme und die
enorme Spielfreude, mit der der 71jährige Berry den
Saal zum Brodeln bringt. Offensichtlich hat er größtes Vergnügen an einem tanzenden, klatschenden,
singenden Publikum und an seinen Mitmusikern. Frisch, lebendig und kein bißchen angestaubt swingen
die alten Klassiker "Maybelline", "Carol", "Little Queenie", "Johnnie B. Goods" etc., während ihr Schöpfer
drahtig rockt und schelmisch mit den Augen rollt.
Kurze Pause. Dann trippelt Little Richard auf
die Bühne im himmelblauen Schlafanzug, breitet die Arme aus,
ein bißchen Diva, ein bißchen gekreuzigter Jesus, ein bißchen Las Vegas, ein bißchen Spelunke, Showbiz und
Schwulenbar. "Hey, do you love me?" kreischt er - "I am the biuuut-hieeful Little Richard!" - und hämmert ins
Piano, "Good Golly Miss Molly, I sure like to ball". Er wird begleitet von neun Musikern: Gitarren und Bläser,
Orgel und Rhythmusgruppe. Zu laut alles. Klangbrei. Und nach jedem Song mehrfach die gekreischte Frage:
"Are you having a good time?"
Etwas ermüdend. Und dem Kleinen Richard geht
die Puste aus, und er redet endlos zwischen den Songs,
lädt sich Publikum auf die Bühne, gibt Autogramme, läßt sich fotografieren. Zu lange Unterbrechnungen
hemmen den Fluß. Zwischendurch die alten Hits. "Tutti Frutti", "Long Tall Sally",
"Lucieeeelle" . . . gut zum Tanzen . . . auch eine wunderbare Version von Hank Williams' "Jambalaya" und
"Every Breath You Take" von Police. Nach anderthalb Stunden war es genug und der Schlafanzug
Wieder kurze Pause. Dann, großes Staunen:
nochmal Chuck Berry und die Bekanntmachung, Jerry Lee Lewis
sei ganz plötzlich schwer krank geworden und könne nicht auftreten. Damals in den fünfziger Jahren hätten
die Rock 'n' Roller daraufhin den Saal zu Kleinholz zerlegt. Heute sind alle älter und ruhiger. Und Chuck Berry
hat den Abend gerettet. Thank you, Chuck!
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
23.07.98 - Munich, Germany - Olympiahalle
Review by Dett
Legends of Rock 'n' Roll - 'Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis und Chuck Berry' am 23.07.1998 in der Münchener Olympiahalle
Irgendwann zwischen 1952 und 1953 hatte der von
weißen Country Sängern wie Hank Williams und
den elektrisierten schwarzen Blues Musikern angerichtete Cocktail, tief im Süden der USA Feuer gefangen
und war als Rock 'n' Roll explodiert. Rock 'n' Roll war, obwohl alle Bestandteile bekannt waren, doch etwas
wirklich Neues und noch nie Dagewesenes. Zum erstenmal gab es für weiße und schwarze junge Amerikaner
eine Musik. Diese Aussage ist auch dann richtig, wenn man bedenkt, daß zumindest in den frühen 50er
Jahren die Rassentrennung noch soweit ging, daß nur schwarze Rock 'n' Roller für Schwarze und weiße
Rock 'n' Roller nur für Weiße spielen durften. Dies führte dann dazu, daß ein Hit immer in zwei Versionen,
einmal mit weißen und einmal mit schwarzen Musikern aufgenommen wurde. Trotzdem blieb es der gleiche
Song, mit dem gleichen Erfolg bei Weiß und Schwarz. Rock 'n' Roll war auch deshalb etwas völlig Neues,
weil es eine noch nie gekannte Einheit zwischen Musik, Musikern und Fans gab. Die Musik war schnell,
laut und wild, die Musiker gebärdeten sich ebenso wild und obszön und die Fans waren so wild und aggressiv,
daß regelmäßig das Mobiliar auf den Tanzveranstaltungen, wo Rock 'n' Roll gespielt wurde, zu Bruch ging.
Halbstark war kein Schimpfwort, sondern eine Lebenseinstellung, die von orientierungslosen Kriegsheimkehrern
gegründeten Vereinigungen, wie die Hell's Angels waren nicht mehr subversive Organisationen, sondern ihre
Mitglieder Helden und Vorbilder. Das diese Energie auch von dem dicklichen und ältlichen Country Sänger
Bill Haley ausgehen konnte, ist aus heutiger Sicht vielleicht verwunderlich, aber die Dreieinigkeit zwischen
Musik, Musikern und Fans funktionierte am besten mit den jungen Protagonisten, allen voran Elvis Presley.
Gelernt hatte der King den Rock 'n' Roll von den wahren Pionieren, die z.B. Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis oder
Chuck Berry hießen. Gerade diese großen Drei hat es jetzt nach München zu einem gemeinsamen Konzert
verschlagen. Wenn Herren, die vor 45 Jahren junge Wilde waren, heute annähernd 70 sind oder wie Chuck Berry
sogar schon den 70. Geburtstag eine Weile hinter sich haben, zu einem Konzert laden, auf dem sie die Stimmung
ihrer wilden Jahre beschwören wollen und sich beim Material auf Ihre wirklich kurzen kreativen Phasen verlassen
müssen, (oder kennt jemand einen Jerry Lee Lewis Song aus den 60ern, 70ern oder noch neuer?) dann kann
dies so gruselig werden, wie für einen Splatter Movie erfahrenen Teen, eine Fahrt mit der Geisterbahn auf
dem Oktoberfest, eben nur peinlich. Wir müssen gestehen, diese Angst begleitete uns auf dem Weg zur Olympiahalle,
denn die Bedeutung für die heutige Musik, die die drei "Legenden" mit ihren Songs in den 50er
Jahren begannen, sollte sie alle drei eher heilig sprechen, als sie dem öffentlichen Spott auszusetzen.
Die Olympiahalle war mit ca. 4000 Menschen verschiedensten Alters und Stils (Teddys, Punks, junges
Volk und alte Knacker, wie Dett) schlecht gefüllt. Die PA-Anlage war für die große Halle entschieden zu klein,
was sich weniger in der manchmal fast schmerzenden Lautstärke, als in dem flachen, blechenden Sound
niederschlug. Aber andererseits hat dieser Geiz den Zuhörern die Möglichkeit gegeben, etwas von der
Authentizität der 50er zu erspüren, wenn es auch für heute ungewöhnlich ist, wenn die PA, wie ein
Kofferverstärker, selbst den Gesang verzerrt. Zuerst kommt Little Richard. Er hat die größte Begleitband:
4 Bläser, 2 Schlagzeuger, Baß Gitarre, einen weiteren Pianisten und zwei männliche Tanzmäuse, die ihn
in den nächsten 1 ½ Stunden begleiten. Atrose in beiden Knien und Hüften erlauben zwar keine großen
Schritte mehr, aber Little Richard ist immer noch gut bei Stimme und von keinerlei Minderwertigkeitskomplex
verbogen. Er ist ein souveräner Entertainer und damit der ideale Startup und Vermittler zwischen Publikum und
der Zeitreise die jetzt angetreten wird. Leider ist sein eigenes original Repertoire aus den 50ern für einen
Auftritt dieser Länge viel zu kurz, weshalb er bei Fats Domino und anderen, bis hin zu dem 70er Jahre
Rocker Bob Seger Anleihen nimmt. Bei Bobs "Rock 'n' Roll-Music" bringt er die Security ins Schwitzen,
als er mehr als 50 Zuhörer zum gemeinsamen Tanz auf die Bühne bittet. Die wollen nach der Nummer
dann Autogramme oder Little Richard zumindest die Hand schütteln. Nach dem ihre Wünsche erfüllt sind,
begeben sie sich aber brav wieder in den Zuschauerraum. Little Richard ist ein Clown und man kann ihm
nicht übelnehmen, daß er seine beiden eigenen Nummern "Lucille" und "Tutti Frutti" etwas in die Länge zieht.
Das Publikum nimmt ihn an und singt begeistert mit, wenn Little Richard ihm den Einsatz erteilt.
Ebenfalls zieht er das Ende in die Länge, schon 20 Minuten, bevor er tatsächlich aufhört, beginnt er
jede Moderation mit der Einleitung "... well, I have to go now ...". Um uns herum wird gemunkelt,
Jerry Lee Lewis kann nicht auftreten und deshalb ist Little Richards Auftritt so lang. Der Umbau dauert
nur Minuten und da der Flügel im Zentrum der Bühne bleibt ist klar, Jerry Lee, auch genannt der Killer
wird spielen. Wer den Film über sein Leben mit Denis Quaid gesehen hat, weiß daß solche Gemeinschaftsveranstaltungen
in den 50ern üblich waren, weiß aber auch welche Rivalität unter den Musikern herrschte. Unvergessen ist
die Szene im Film, bei der Jerry Lee den Auftritt des nach ihm folgenden Chuck Berry dadurch verhindert,
daß er den Flügel abfackelt und das alles nur, weil Jerry Lee mit der Reihenfolge der Acts nicht einverstanden war.
Jetzt wartet alles auf Jerry Lee Lewis und der läßt sich Zeit. Jerry Lee wird von dem ehemaligen Leibarzt von
Elvis Presley versorgt, einem Mediziner, der für seinen sorglosen Umgang mit Narkotika jeglicher Art
berüchtigt ist. Jerry soll er vom Heroin auf die leckeren Produkte von Hoechst, Ciba Geigi und anderer
Pharmariesen umgestellt haben, was Jerrys Zuverlässigkeit zu Gute gekommen sei. Aber jetzt warten
alle schon 30 Minuten, daß der Killer kommt. Ist ihm vielleicht doch nicht gut? Nach einer guten halben
Stunde betreten einige grauharige Herren mit Gitarrenkoffern die Bühne, packen ihre Instrumente aus und
beginnen in aller Ruhe mit dem Stimmen. Weitere fünf Minuten später kommt der Ansager auf die Bühne und
sagt die "Jerry Lee Lewis Band" an. Die alten Herren (2 Gitarren, Baß, Schlagzeug) beginnen ziemlich
unmelodiös zu spielen und einer der beiden Gitarristen singt auch noch herzergreifend falsch. Das kann
ja heiter werden, doch nach dieser Nummer kommt Jerry Lee doch in Person auf die Bühne. Was da auf
dünnen Beinen, mit dickem Wanst, starr den Flügel fixierend auf die Bühne wankt ist ein Wrack!
Glücklich schafft er es zum Klavierhocker, läßt sich darauf fallen und starrt verwirrt ins tobende Publikum.
Doch dann sieht er wohl die Klaviertasten und beginnt auf sie mit Urgewalt einzudreschen. Das ist so
ohrenbetäubend laut und falsch, daß ein älteres Paar vor uns mit Entsetzen in den Augen die Halle verläßt.
Jerry Lee Lewis ist "White Trash" von der Sorte, für die die Familie Conner aus der Fernsehserie
"Rosanne" Bildungsbürgertum ist. Ob richtig oder falsch, Jerry ist es egal. Mit ungeheurem Tempo und
Drive hämmert und kreischt er sich durch seine Hits, daß junge Hardcore Musiker sicherlich blaß vor Neid
geworden wären, wären sie anwesend gewesen. Keine Ansagen, keine Überleitungen, Jerry scheint sein
Publikum nicht wahrzunehmen, es ist nur diese Musik in ihm, die sich explosionsartig über die Tastatur
Luft verschafft. Man bekommt einen guten Eindruck warum Jerry Lee der Killer war, auch wenn er heute
nicht mehr mit den Füßen das Klavier mißhandelt, sondern froh ist, das der Hocker, auf dem er sitzt,
fest steht. Mit "Great Balls of Fire" ist nach 20 energiereichen Minuten Jerrys Auftritt schon beendet,
gestützt von Helfern und frenetischem Applaus schwankt er nach hinten und war nicht mehr gesehen.
Wieder eine kurze Umbaupause von fünf Minuten und dann kommt Chuck Berry. Mit 72 Jahren der
älteste der Drei und mit Abstand der fitteste. Chuck Berry, das sind eigentlich drei Künstler in einem.
Chuck Berry, der Komponist unzähliger Rock 'n' Roll Standards, von "Back In The USA" über "Maybellene" und
"Memphis, Tennessee" bis zu "Roll Over, Beethoven", "School Day" oder "Johnny B. Goode". Nummern,
die man nicht nur von ihm, sondern von vielen großen Musikern späterer Generationen gecovered wurden
und immer noch gecovered werden. Der zweite Künstler ist Chuck Berry, der Gitarrist. Er hat die Gitarre
im Rock 'n' Roll erst erfunden, überall auf der Welt kennt man seine Intros. Der dritte Künstler ist aber
der Besondere: Chuck Berry der Performer. Wie soll man etwas beschreiben, was unbeschreiblich ist.
Daß er kein Tempo halten kann, mal schneller mal langsamer wird, Mitklatschen damit unmöglich macht,
ist schon bekannt. Wenn man dann auch noch feststellen will, daß Chuck Berry gar nicht Gitarre spielen kann,
sondern so klingt wie der schlechteste und untalentierteste Amateur, nämlich grauenhaft, wischt er mit einer
bluesigen oder jazzigen Passage diesen Eindruck blitzschnell vom Tisch, um danach wieder minutenlang
zu diletieren. Doch gehen wir ins Detail. Chuck Berry spielt einen Gibson Nachbau von Epiphone. Sicherlich
könnte er sich auch das Original leisten, wie es Eric Clapton oder B.B.King spielten, aber für seinen Stil oder
besser Unstil, brächte das Original keine Verbesserung. Verstärkt wird die Gitarre mit einem alten Fender
Baßverstärker und passender Baßbox, dazu sind die Höhen nach unten reguliert. Das klingt nach tiefstem
Keller und nicht viele in der Halle haben schon einmal eine Gitarre gehört, die soviel akustischen Raum einnimmt.
Die Begleiter (Schlagzeug, Baß und Klavier) kommen in den Passagen, in denen Chuck die Gitarre bearbeitet
nur am Rande vor. Über die Rolling Stones hieß es vor wenigen Wochen, sie vermittelten den Eindruck,
als erfänden Sie Ihre Songs auf der Bühne jedesmal neu. Wer weiß, wieviel Proben die Stones durchlaufen,
bis sie so klingen, erfährt bei Chuck Berry, das es auch völlig anders geht. Chuck hat schon immer erklärt,
er hasse Proben und es ist hinzuzufügen, daran hat sich bis heute nichts geändert. Statt dessen will er
improvisieren, sucht Blickkontakt mit seinen Musikern, um völlig überraschend Tonart oder Rhythmus oder
beides zu wechseln, gelingt es, grinst er breit ins Publikum, wenn nicht, macht nichts. Chuck zieht seine
Show ungerührt von falschen Noten und schleppenden Rhythmen ab. Hier ist alles Kunst. Dazu schleicht er
wie eine Raubkatze über die Bühne, schüttelt sich und seine Gitarre und setzt mehrfach zum berühmten
Entengang an. Die Fans liegen ihm auch um Mitternacht noch zu Füßen und es ist jedem klar, dies ist der
wahre Rock 'n' Roll, anarchisch, laut und spontan. Wir sehen viele verzückte Gesichter von 50 bis 60 Jährigen,
die im Alltag sicherlich auf Ordnung und Korrektheit drängen, denn Chuck hat ihnen etwas zurückgegeben,
was sie längst verloren hatten, die Erinnerung an ihre Gefühle als sie jung waren. Aber Chuck hat nicht nur
eine Botschaft für die Alten, vor uns sitzt eine vielleicht 14 jährige, der vor Begeisterung für den alten Herrn
auf der Bühne, der Mund sperrangelweit offen steht. So will der Applaus kein Ende nehmen. Die Fans haben
erkannt warum "Rock 'n' Roll never dies" kein Spruch, sondern gelebte Wirklichkeit für Chuck Berry und seine
Fans in seinen Konzerten ist. Legends of Rock 'n' Roll war der gemeinsame Auftritt von drei Musikern, ohne die
die heutige Musik anders wäre, jeder für sich war etwas ganz Besonderes, eine Wertung im Sinne einer kritischen
Betrachtung verbietet sich. Oder wie Chuck es sagt: "Long live rock 'n' roll; the beat of the drums loud and bold.
Rock, rock, rock 'n' roll; the feeling is there, body and soul".
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little
26.07.98 - Budapest, Hungary - Kisstadion
Review by Miroslav Schossberger
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, B.B.
Rockabillys, Jeff Healey, Booze Brothers
01.08.98 - Esbjerg, Denmark - Circuspladsen
Review by Jesper Kragh
The Warm Up Bands
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee
15.08.98 - Westbury, NY - Westbury Music Fair
Review by Kay Martin
By #1 JLL fan Kay Martin and her friend Don
Don: We had a real nice time at the
concert. Jerry was in top form. He had
a red shirt with valentine motif on and came out looking good and powerful. He had
Kenny Lovelace, the bass player [Cunningham?] and drums backing him. He said
he usually plays a lot of Chuck's songs in his shows because they are so great,
but he couldn't do any of them tonight because Chuck was following him. He started
with Wine Spodeeodee, did Chantilly Lace, Mean Woman Blues, Over the Rainbow,
Baby Why You Been Gone So Long, Down the Line, Another Place Another Time,
You Win Again, several other numbers, and closed with Whole Lot of Shakin and
Great Balls of Fire. When he played the latter, everyone in the audience sang along.
Jerry played the piano a lot and I could hear all the little flourishes that he does.
He was given a standing ovation, but did not do an encore. The crowd at Westbury
is usually pretty passive, you know, New York Cool, but just before the end Jerry
mussed up his hair and gave out a rebel yell, then into Whole Lot Of Shakin and
Great Balls of Fire. This had the audience on its feet, cheering. He was on stage
for about an hour. It was a real good concert. Chuck Berry on the other hand,
has a local back up band, not one of his own. The stipulation is that they know how
to play his music. This band didn't. I felt sorry for Chuck; he was good when he
did numbers by himself, but the band missed the beat and played wrong tempo and
wrong chords, which was pretty sad.
Kay: Chuck was defeated before he
began with this pitiful band. And he didn't do
his duckwalk, which disappointed everyone in the audience. Lots of people walked
out during his performance. Even Jerry kicked over the stool at the end of his part;
as "old" as that bit is, people love it. I had a story for Jerry after his part of
the show. They found a seat for me on the aisle and into his show when Jerry began
the intro to Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a guy sitting behind me seemed to think
it was a put-on, or that Jerry was going to rock it somehow. He was making snide laughter.
Well, Jerry's hit was singing it straight and playing the hell out of the piano,
which is what he did at Westbury. When the song was over, the guy behind me said "Wow,
he really can sing!" which of course made me smile big time, and so did Jerry when
I told him about it. Boy, we miss the Lonesome Fiddle Man's input, especially on
"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "Another Place Another Time."
I stayed with Jerry until he went on, then
went backstage with him afterwards. We stopped
in Chuck Berry's dressing room and I got a photo of them together, which should appear
with this article. Jerry said "Chuck, you remember Kay; she was at all of our shows back
at the Times Square Paramount [Xmas 1957-New Years 1958]." Chuck looked at me and said
"No! You couldn't have been more than 2 years old then!" I replied, "Chuck, flattery will get
you everywhere!" Back in Jerry's dressing room, he and I chatted and reminisced until the limo
was ready to take him to the plane-- they were going back home (had just come up for the one show).
Jerry did not make the show on Friday, August 14th. I don't know why and I didn't ask.
He sounded great -- vocally and on piano. The band was good, as usual, although James Burton
was not with the band this trip. As I said, I got to see him and speak with him before and
after the show. He is looking and feeling great. We always reminisce when we get together
about old times, people we knew, and that kind of stuff. So many are gone now. Jerry and
I knew each other's relatives, mothers, father, cousins, sisters, his children, and old friends,
so we always have much to talk about.
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
02.06.99 - Holmdel, NJ - P.N.C. Bank Arts Center
Review by Bill Bugge
Last night, I saw Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis in concert
at the P.N.C. Arts Center in New Jersey. I figured it could be sad to see these
legends in decline but felt it would be nice to clap for them one last time for
all the joy they have given me over the years.
The concert started at 8:00 and was over at 11:20, with two 15 minutes intermissions.
Jerry Lee Lewis was on first, after his backup band featuring guitarist James Burton
did four or five warmups. This was the first time I ever saw Jerry Lee. Once he
failed to show at a concert I was attending primarily to see him and they replaced
him with Freddie Cannon and Joey Dee. That's like Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi.
Jerry (64 years old?) did about 30 minutes and sounded fine, though picking up the lyrics
was tough due to the loud backup. He looked like he had been embalmed before the show,
but managed enough energy to kick over his piano bench. Best number was Great Balls Of Fire.
Little Richard, now 66 years old, was a huge disappointment. Despite a killer backup band
featuring three horns and a voice which still has all the old power (those "woos" are still great),
he chose to camp it up and was annoying. Incessant banter (I was hollering "shut up" back at him),
having half the audience onstage (twice), a 10 or 15 minutes Blueberry Hill sung almost entirely
by the audience (not me), and his singing others songs when he had so many great ones of his
own made me long for a Little Richard CD. His Bama Lama Bama Loo was terrific, better than
anything Jerry Lee did. When he sat and played, not often enough, he was still a master. He
was onstage almost an hour, but he sang for maybe fifteen minutes. He looked like he had a
bad back. Onstage movements seemed painful and were very slow.
So far, this review echoes comments posted in the 60's group by someone (sorry I can't recall the name)
who saw them in Belgium. Next came the part I dreaded. Chuck Berry is like a god to me. He was and
is my all time favorite performer and the report from Belgium that he was surly and mediocre had me
ready to see my idol embarass himself.
No way! Chuck, at 72, looked trim, fit and was in good humor. He still had some nice moves
(he did the duckwalk without the guitar) and his voice was as good as ever, hard as that
might seem to believe. He did an almost sixty minute set, mixing his hits with Blues like
Mean Old World and Wee Wee Hours. He even sang a very enjoyable ditty about his longevity
which I had never heard before.
You could understand every word he sang. He must have a regular keyboard player in his combo
of three, since they on a few occasions switched instruments and Chuck played a mean keyboard.
The only real criticism was Chuck's guitar was out of tune for the first few numbers. After he
changed it though, he was the old Chuck. Also, no You Never Can Tell. But that was offset by
the absence of My Ding A Ling.
Chuck was so much better than the recent concert footage of him I have seen. I was so relieved
that, not only was he not an embarrassment, he kicked Jerry Lee's and Little Richard's asses and
proved he deserved star billing.
I am thrilled to have seen him at his best and to have finally seen Jerry Lee.
03.12.99 - Morristown, NJ - Community Theater
Review by Chris Ditullio
took my son for the first time to see Chuck play guitar this past December.
My son is 10 years old and was amazed at the the sound of Chucks awesome guitar.
He couldn't believe that there wasn't 3 guitarists up on stage. I am a veteran of
33 Chuck concerts and he still amazes me.
I was at the Ritz Nightclub in Manhattan (NYC) back in the 80's
when Chuck punched Keith Richards in the eye!
I was standing right there.
Berry, Little Richard
13.06.00 - Las Vegas, NV - Caesars Palace
Review by Chris Ditullio
Chuck came out ready to perform all three nights at Circus Maximus Showroom.
From the opening chords each night he seemed possessed like a man in his twenties!
He duckwalked each night to the crowds pleasure. He played the standard Roll Over Beethoven, Carol,
Little Queenie, School Days, Johnny B. Goode, Reelin' And Rockin', My Ding A Ling, Let It Rock, Memphis,
Bye Bye Johnny, etc. After the second show I met Chuck's bass player, Jim Marsala,
and spoke with him for about 2 hours around the slot machines. He's been with Chuck for 27 years
so I had a lot of interesting questions for him. I asked him if Chuck could do Route 66, Bio, and
South of the Border (3 of my favorites) the next night. He obliged by playing Bio as the second song of the night.
Then several songs latter Chuck asked Jim what they were getting ready to play and Jim told him
South of the Border - so he played it and I was very happy. No Route 66 but that's okay. Jim told me
and my wife to come by the security door after the show but Chuck was too tired. I've seen Chuck
close to 50 times now dating back to the early 1970's. I'm 40 now and enjoy him even more each time.
He's the greatest! Little Richard opened the show and was fine but he had 2 drummers, 2 bass players,
2 guitars, 2 keyboards, 3 horns, etc. and then Chuck comes out with just his guitar sounds unbelievable!
Jim Marsala was on bass, the keyboard player was great and the drummer bashed. Three great shows and
it was my first time to Las Vegas. What a wonderful place that is. Chuck also played Havana Moon the 2nd night
and Jim was shocked he started singing it. I guess he hasn't done it in years. The 2nd night did a 3-in-one
when he sang the first verse of Let It Rock, then broke into Carol and finished up with the words to Little Queenie.
Berry, Little Richard
17.06.00 - Las Vegas, NV - Caesars Palace
Review by Jeff Staudinger
June 17th 2000 Caesars
Palace Las Vegas Neveda... What a great night it was.
Have always been a huge Chuck Berry fan. Recently I had met a friend,
who it turns out is one of Little Richards band members! I had told him though how I appreciated Little Richard,
I was really into Chuck. And I has wanted to see my friennd play. I found out he was playing in Vegas with... Chuck Berry!
I told I wanted to come see him play and get to see Chuck in the same night. He said he couldn't make any promises,
but he see what he could do. So the night came and my wife made it over to Caesars. I met my friend,
who then escorted us backstage. He had two chairs set up already for us. Just off to the side
about 10 feet away from the action. Well the house lights went down, and I was floating on a cloud.
The curtains opened up, and the Little Richard band started playing. It took a while for Richards to come out though.
He did his normal "thing" up on stage. From the review I've read connected to this site, he pretty much did the same thing.
A lot of "shut ups" and a lot of people dancing on stage. He played for about an hour, and did an ok job.
Personally I thought his band stole the spotlight. He finished, the curtain came down,
and I said goodbye to my friend as he left with the band. He knew I wanted to see Chuck and
said Berry had really been putting on good shows that week. I was just sitting there waiting,
and his backup band came on. Jim Marsala on bass who has been with him for quite some time.
And a piano player and drummer. Then I felt someone brush right by me. I looked up and it was Chuck.
Wearing a simple shiny silver shirt. He picked up his guitar, stood in front of the mic and was ready.
At that moment, I took a picture in my mind, thats still with me. The curtain was down, Chuck was in front of the mic,
just seconds before showtime. How many hundreds, maybe thousands of times has Chuck been there.
What a feeling it must be to have that curtain go up in front of you, and see that huge crowd.
That will be the closest I ever get to that kind of feeling, but I sure felt it. He, then like Richard, and
I know Jerry Lee Lewis, pretty much did his standard show. Ive seen Chuck in small clubs where he really gets into it.
But (like Richard, Lewis and others), he did the show I was pretty much expecting. Opened with Roll Over Beethoven,
School Days. He also did Carol, Little Queenie, Havana Moon, It Hurts Me Too, Let It Rock, Memphis, Hail Hail Rock and Roll,
a couple of other slow blues numbers, a spoken poem, My Ding A Ling, Johnnie B Goode, and Reelin' and Rockin'.
I was surprised to see Reelin' and Rockin' was a bit shorter than he has done in the past but it was still great.
He seemed to be a bit more into this night, and did his one duckwalk for the crowd. He's 73, but he still was looking good.
I had taken a couple items to the show hoping I could get signed. I knew exactly when Chuck would leave the stage,
from having seen him so many times before. My wife told me I may never get this oppurtunity again,
so I seized the moment! As he played the final riffs of Reelin' and Rockin', I made my way over to the side of the stage.
The band was playing, there were the usual people up on stage dancing, and Chuck made his way to the side.
He slipped off his guitar, and someone threw a towel around his neck. And he came right at me.
I had his autobiography out, and I asked Chuck if he could please sign his book. He said "Let me cool off first".
And made his way to the dressing room. The person who gave him the towel followed him to the room.
That person stood in the doorway, and I could hear Chuck but couldn't make out what he was saying.
His asst then waved at me and my wife to come on in! I couldn't move! I was frozen. My wife waved at me as if to say,
"come on". So I went on in, and Chuck was sitting down, towling off. I had always thought about if I had the chance
what would I say? I wanted it to be something profound instead of the usual, "I'm such a big fan Chuck" which im sure he always hears. I wanted it to be at least something different. But I choked, LOL, mumbled something about
how great his book was and how may times I read it. He then signed his book, asked me my name.
He saw my wife holding a camera, and said very nicely, "no pictures". We said sure.
He then took the album ("Fresh Berrys") my wife was holding and signed that. An interesting side note,
he put the date 2009 on both autographs. I didn't think to ask him what that meant. Ive had a couple ideas,
but Im not sure (if anyone has the answer I'd love to know E-Mail me at email@example.com).
I then told him to "keep on rockin", and he said in that Chuck Berry was, "I'm gonna try".
I then mumbled thanks and was walking out the door. Just then the rest of the band came in, and one of them said,
"great show Chuck". Yes it was.
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
04.07.00 - Mannheim, Germany - Maimarkthalle
Review by Wolfgang Guhl
About 6000 people came to
see the Legends. The acoustic in this awful hall was
really bad. The bass was also much too loud.
everybody was excited and
they were waiting for Jerry Lee Lewis who was supposed to open the show.
At about 20:10 the Jerry Lee Lewis All Star Band with Kenny Lovelace on guitar,
B.B. Cunningham on bass, Robert Hall on drums and surprisingly Bill Strom on keyboards
entered the stage. After several problems with the sound Kenny Lovelace opened with the
usual solid version of My Babe which was certainly no surprise. Then the Lewis Band
played several songs in a solid way for about 20 minutes.
After some songs Jerry Lee's daughter Phoebe Lewis came
on stage and did 2 songs and
then anounced the Killer, Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis.
The way to the piano seemed to be very long for him and as he arrived at it he seemed
to be really exhausted. But he started with a long, strong and wild version of
Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee that lasted about 5 minutes. He was in good shape and
mood and he also said that he's proud that he can still Rock'n'Roll and that he's back in Germany.
He did his usual songs but this time also some blues. After 40 minutes he left the stage as
slow as he came. The show was about 60 minutes long. Here is the complete song list:
Sick And Tired (B.B. Cunningham)
Matchbox (Bill Strom)
Lonely Weekends (Robert Hall)
Hang Up My Rock'n'Roll Shoes (Phoebe Lewis)
I'm On Fire (Phoebe Lewis)
Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee
Boogie Woogie Country Man
Why You Been Gone So Long
Me And Bobby McGhee
Before The Night Is Over
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
Great Balls Of Fire
15 minutes break the Little Richard Band
with Derrick Martin on drums, John Helms on guitar,
Wayne Chaney on trumpet, Guy Higginbotham on trumpet,
Charmis Davis on keyboards, Kelvin Holly on guitar,
Charles Glenn on bass, Ken Walker on sax,
Mark Holland on bass and Bob Williams on valet
followed at 21:30 and did a long and loud
Introduction with the 2 crazy drummers and 2 bass player.
The bass was much too loud and all other instruments too low.
Then they anounced Little Richard
who was a huge dissapointment and
started with Good Golly Miss Molly. He talked and screamed all the time and played only a little bit music.
And when he played the sound was unbelievable bad because of his bass section.
Tell him to kick at least 1 drummer and 1 bass player off.
His show lasted about 80 minutes. Here is the complete song list:
(Little Richard Band)
Good Golly Miss Molly
Old Time Rock'n'Roll
Bama Lama Bama Loo
Be Bop A Lula
I Saw Her Standing There
The Girl Can't Help It
Keep A Knockin'
All Around The World
We Gotta Go
I Got A Woman
Long Tall Sally
again 15 minutes break the one and only, Mr. Chuck Berry entered the stage
together with his band with Mark Stevens on piano, Jeff Seopardie on drums
and Jim Marsala on bass and started with the usual Roll Over Beethoven.
The piano player did some great solos during the show and Chuck Berry played a solid 60 minutes show.
He was good but not as good as Jerry Lee Lewis this evening because he didn't more than he had to do.
But he managed to do a very short duckwalk during Johnny B. Goode. Here is the complete song list:
Sweet Little Sixteen
It Hurts Me Too
Honest I Do
Around And Around
Love In Three Quarter Time
My Ding A Ling
Johnny B. Goode
Let It Rock
Reelin' And Rockin'
All in all a great event with these legendary performers.
» Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard
09.07.00 - Bromolla, Sweden - Strandangen
Review by Ola Ringstrom
Lee Lewis entered the stage shortly after 8:00. He seemed to be in a very good
mood and joked a lot
with the crowd and his bandmembers. He played for about 40 minutes singing his most famous songs.
The onstage version of Rockin' My Life Away was one of the better performances I've seen Jerry Lee do in three years.
Lots of intence and great pianoplay. For some reason James Burton was not on stage and his guitar
would have added a lot to the sound which, despite Jerry Lee's wonderful pianoplay, seemed a bit thin.
This performance by Jerry Lee was the best I've seen since 1997 when he made a solotour in Sweden and Denmark.
Rating: 4 out of 5
hour after Jerry Lee's performance Little Richard entered the stage. His sound
is always good
due to the fact that he has got a fairly big band on stage. Unfortunately I must say that he wasn't able
to keep up with his earlier shows in Sweden 1997 and 1998. He seemed a bit more tired. Of course he gave
us value for our money, no doubt about that. He still knows how to light a crowd and make it sing a long with him.
His best performance of the night was, as almost always, Lucille with the stage lovely covered in blue light.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Chuck Berry got onstage. From the first second he took every ones breath away.
I've seen Chuck Berry a number of times (like I've seen the others), first time in 1989 and this was his best performance.
To think that this man actually is almost 74 years old is unbelievable. He must somehow be blessed to still be able to do
the duckwalk at his age. I'm 31 and will probably never be able to do it. For the first time I also saw that Chuck has a
comedian talent. He frequently joked with the crowd and told stories, both while playing and between songs.
His best perfomance of the night was, apart from Johnny B. Goode, his comedy version of My Ding A Ling.
Rating: 5 out of 5
01.12.00 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
By David Segal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 4, 2000; Page C01
"And that's the way we ended it in 1954," said Chuck Berry as he
brought "Around and Around,"
one of his early hits, to a spluttering finish. The crowd at the 9:30 club on Friday night seemed almost stupefied by the date.
Did he just say 1954? "My mother wasn't born in 1954," one attendee muttered aloud, beer in hand. "She was born a year later."
The father of rock-and-roll is old enough to be your
grandaddy. For some
historical perspective, in 1926,
the year Berry was born, Stalin was ousting Trotsky from the Communist Party in Russia and
Calvin Coolidge was president of the United States. He's roughly the same age as former secretary of state
Warren Christopher and it's very hard to imagine that guy strapping on a Gibson guitar and duck-walking to
"Sweet Little Sixteen." For most of Berry's contemporaries, an afternoon of canasta is a workout.
Berry, of course, isn't your typical senior
citizen, which was clear to
everyone just a few chords into "Roll Over Beethoven,"
the song that opened his fervid, if fumble-prone, survey of originals and blues covers.
Despite the show's imperfections--songs didn't so much end as stagger around and
collapse like winos--there was something almost miraculous about the evening.
When Chuck Berry sings "Hail, hail, rock-and-roll," after all, he's not merely quoting his own immortal words.
He's talking about his own invention.
As the guy who created so many of guitar rock's essential amino
acids, of course,
Berry long ago entered pop's pantheon, a designation made official yesterday with his Kennedy Center Honor.
As a live act, though, his reputation has been uneven at best. An infamous cheapskate, he refuses to tour with a band,
which keeps down his overhead, and forces local promoters to hire backing musicians wherever he appears.
Rehearsal? Not a chance. Berry doesn't even jot down a set list. And he's never fretted much over details,
like whether his guitar is in tune. He gets paid upfront, plays for an hour and boards his Cadillac
before all the applause has died down.
That pretty much sums up Friday night, though Berry reveled in his 65 minutes
the audience reveled right back. Wearing a pale blue sequined shirt and a navy blue captain's cap,
he rarely spoke, even to his band mates, who grasped for hints about when to begin and end his songs
when they weren't hunting for the right key. He forgot words to chestnuts like "Memphis,"
reverting to mumbled nonsense verse to fill up the space. ("I'm allowed," he told the audience with a smile.)
His guitar solos wandered, sometimes in slow motion. Never one of rock's perfectionists,
Berry is wholly unbothered by snafus and false starts that would mortify his musical progeny.
Allowances, however, must be made, and not simply for age. Berry had the
wisdom never to reinvent himself,
which means his audiences needn't suffer through a rehash of an embarrassing disco or new-wave phase.
Instead, on Friday night Berry showed off his roots, reaching further into the past to cover "It Hurts Me Too,"
a heart-stopping blues ballad popularized by Elmore James, one of his early heroes and
an obvious inspiration for Berry's distinctive double-note leads.
And who other than Berry could have packed, into a single concert, a batch of
have been covered by the likes of the Beatles ("Rock and Roll Music") and the Rolling Stones ("Around and Around") and
George Thorogood ("Nadine") and Jimi Hendrix ("Johnny B. Goode") and Jackie Wilson ("School Day"),
as well as the Flamin' Groovies ("Carol") and Elvis Presley and Bob Marley ("Memphis")? "Little Queenie,"
which Berry segued into midway through his set, has been covered by REO Speedwagon,
Jerry Lee Lewis and Tom Jones. The list proves what was already obvious by the mid-'60s:
Among rock's Founding Fathers, Berry's influence as a songwriter is without equal.
For "Reelin' and Rockin,' " his
closer, Berry dragooned a small
crowd of young ladies onstage,
which seemed to energize the man like a protein shake. He took off his guitar and tried to dance with one of his guests,
a lady in a red gown who evidently found Chuck's choice of steps a tad obscure.
("She's too young to know the jitterbug!" Berry exclaimed.) He took a turn at keyboards,
then waved and exited, smiling to what was by now a frenzied audience. A minute later,
Berry appeared on a balcony and waved again. Generally, though, once the man leaves the stage,
he's done for the night. By the time the lights went up and the crowd was filing out the club,
there was a good chance that Chuck Berry was already a few miles down the road.
Berry, Little Richard
30.12.00 - Atlantic City, NJ - Resorts Casino
Review by Bruce R. Aydelotte
"Hi, everyone......I mentioned a while ago
that I was taking my 15 yr. old
daughter to see the "Geezer Tour" featuring Little Richard and Chuck
Berry....Richard announced that he is 68 and I believe that Chuck is either
74 or 75...............Richard came on first after a seriously rockin'
instrumaental by his kickass nine piece band with two bass players, a horn
secton and a hammond B-3 to mention a few.........He came on wearing a
goldish-mustardish outfit featuring a fully sequined jacket.......mighty
He did an hour set which, unfortunately included too much "schtick" with the
audience, especially the folks in the front row......he even invited anyone
in the audience who wanted to, to come up on the stage and dance while he
When he did play and sing he was absolutely fantastic.......not enough of it
I'm afraid, but my daughter loved him and was very happy to have seen the
"Architect" of Rock 'n' Roll..........he did about an hour set, and at least
played about six or eight of his biggest hits......unfortunately he played
too many of other people's songs including "Blueberry Hill" with an audience
,"Be-Bop-A-Lula", and even "Jambalaya" which did rock, at least........
Then Chuck came on and he did his usual habit of showing up to play with
nothing but his guitar (a beautiful red Gibson stereo model with great
white piping around every edge).....he had on a totally sequined red "puffy
shirt" and black stovepipe pants.........balder than I'd seen him
before........but in good spirits, and when he quit noodling around and
trying to tune up while onstage, he played some great licks on a good many
of his songs.......a low moment was when he kept chiding the sound guy to
try to "turn down" the piano.......it got really boring to listen to him
start the song, and keep stopping to ask the guy to turn the piano down some
more.......this went on for a good fifteen minutes and got real old real
quick........I was embarrassed for him and my daughter soon lost interest in
his set.............but he got back on track and played the shit out of a
half-dozen of his greatest hits to end the show.......once more he also
asked members of the audience to join him onstage just like Richard had, and
too many showoffs and wannabes were posing and dancing badly while they
surrounded Chuck.........he got lost in the crowd, but you could still hear
his great guitar work...........
All in all a great night of witnessing the "Father" and the "Architect" of
Rock 'n' Roll , even though they are in their declining years........they're
still doing a better show than a lot of other younger guys can
do.........and my daughter got to see a couple of the pioneers of the music
we all love.........worth it!!"
Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis
19.01.01 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theatre
Review by Jeffrey Prater & Dan Hansen
I left one song out -
so here is the new listing and review of the show
as well as Jerry's health and how happy he was last night.
Jerry Lee Lewis &
Chuck Berry performed at the Detroit Fox Theatre, Detroit, Michigan,
January 19, 2001.
Jerry Lee opened the show:
The following numbers listed below is what the band played and then what Jerry played.
Slippin' And Slidin'
Matchbox (Bill Strom)
Sick And Tired (B.B. Cunningham)
Lonely Weekends (Robert Hall)
Jerry walks out in a pair
of sharp dark blue slacks with a blue shirt on and silver tie.
As he walked out the sold-out crowd went absolutely crazy after Robert finished with "Lonely Weekends".
Had a silver tie on and looked great. He had a white sport jacket on and cowboy boots.
He did manage to use his feet on the piano during "Rockin' My Life Away".
Here are the following
numbers that Jerry performed. His energy level was 100%.
He was ready to rock and roll.
He opened the show with the following songs:
Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O
No Headstone On My Grave
You Win Again
Why You Been Gone So Long
She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye
Me And Bobby McGhee
Rockin' My Life Away
Over The Rainbow
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
Great Balls Of Fire
"Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On": The
went beserk as Jerry cocked his head back and
looked up at the ceiling and the piano legend never ceases to amaze people.
The crowd just couldn't believe it.
"Great Balls Of Fire":
Extended Version - Pandomonium had set it by now and
there was no one left sitting in their seats.
After closing and kicking
the stool back with "Great Balls Of Fire" Jerry Lee
was joking about how he had to show respect for his elders by letting
Chuck Berry have top billing. He was just kidding. They hugged each other as Jerry
left the stage and left people in Detroit as well as from all over "Breathless."
Very good spirits in his dressing room he sang an accapella version of
"Milkcow Blues" & "High School Confidential". Wonderful show. Kenny Lovelace,
B.B. Cunningham, Robert Hall, Bill Strom were rocking - B.B. especially.
Then comes on Mr. Chuck Berry and he put on a hell of a concert at a time where rioting
almost took place. He invited everyone in the theatre (it seats approximately 3,000)
to come up and get on stage and dance with him.
About 500 people accommodated Mr. Berry but the Fox Theatre wouldn't allow it and
Chuck Berry shouted and said "You either let them dance, or I'm not playing".
After the show was over I
asked everyone that I could get a hold of who put on
the best show and they said Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry was laughing, smiling and
accommodating various people with autographs. He looked very happy.
Oh, Man. A Killer of a show.
Jeffrey Prater gave the
details and great review of the Killer's Detroit show and
I agree with all of it. But from a more personal standpoint I just gotta' say,
"what took me so long", it was my first Jerry Lee Lewis concert. Odd thing is,
having been born in '55 and having 6 older siblings, I grew up from my earliest
years with the sounds of Rock 'n Roll vibrating throughout the house.
And throughout all the legends of Rock, ONE MAN and his piano style just
blew-away all the others, as I craved for his music and
got laughed at in the seventies by my friends (in a friendly way),
but I just kept telling all of them, "I don't care, this IS rock 'n roll -
the way it's meant to be, where you can feel it from head-to-toe".
Most of you JLL fans probably wouldn't call me a true fan,
having gone this long before seeing the man. Well, I can only say this, "
I won't ever miss a concert again that's within any traveling distance I can possibly make".
The Detroit concert was awesome!! I started to nervously shake as he suddenly appeared
from the right-side of the stage, just kind'a strolled out, I was caught off-guard for his band
hadn't quite finished their last warm-up number yet. Of course, like the rest of the crowd
I estactically rose to my feet and joined in the thunderous applause and screams!!
It was so much more than I had expected, having heard of his aging voice and
numerous health concerns. I was especially delighted with his voice and the fingers
were working better than ever. Awesome.
Just a bit on Chuck
Berry: Actually, he had quite a bit of trouble with an amp on stage
the first two thirds of his show. In fact he was very angry about it. He stopped numerous times
after starting songs and openly critized the stage crew and techies for
not getting the problem resolved. With microphone in hand, asking for immeditate help by
an engineer to, "come out on stage and fix this thing", he cried. Additional problems accured
during the singing of "Rock and Roll Music" as everything was off-key
(I believe the bass player was the cause) and the crowd was stunned into silence even as
the song concluded and could barely muster a weak applause.
Then suddenly EVERYTHING seemed to fall into place as Chuck rocked the house and
seemed to play non-stop for over a half-hour and like Jeffrey Prater said,
a near riot came about (in fact that's just what I told my brother at the time,
that a riot might start here) as Chuck insisted EVERYONE join him on stage and dance.
It put the security force into immediate danger. I dare say, if the crowed averaged age 18
instead of 40 it would have been interesting as peace prevailed.
Again, despite the rocky start to Chuck's show, that last half-hour more than made up for it.
He really did look and act and played like he was 20 too.
Look'n out for Jerry's next show,
Berry, Leon Russell
13.04.01 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
Review by Thomas Crone
It's a full five hours before the start of
Chuck Berry's gig at the Pageant,
his first there since the debut of the concert hall last year. Between then and now, of course,
there's been the monthly, sold-out gig at the Duck Room, just down the block.
The expectations, though, are a little higher on this show.
You've got a bigger room to fill, for starters,
though every indication suggests that the show
will sell out by the showtime, the first of two opening bands hitting the stage at 8 p.m.
And the crowd's consistency is going to be a little different than usual, with a good percentage
of the attendees expected to be under-21.
At 5 p.m., Berry's core band is onstage:
keyboardist Bob Lohr, a veteran of local blues bands,
including a regular gig with Arthur Williams; bassist Jim Marcella, who's backed Berry,
off-and-on for nearly 30 years; and drummer Bob Kuban, a St. Louis legend in his own right.
Rounding out the group is Charles Berry Jr., who they expect to sit in for the last song of the night,
since "he's brought his amp."
The group tunes and tunes, the keyboards, in
particular, unable to lock into the proper pitch,
a problem that Lohr eventually blames on a bad socket. Berry Jr. joins in and tosses fills around,
while Kuban is battling the drum head on his kick. Eventually, the man himself, Chuck Berry,
enters stage left and strides onto the stage, wearing his oft-seen nautical cap.
After some striding about the stage, Berry does find a guitar, though the pace of this "rehearsal" is relaxed, at best.
Known for seldom working out the band prior to
a gig ("To have Chuck Berry at a soundcheck is rare;
actually it's something less-than-rare," says one Pageant employee), the group moves through a small handful of tunes,
including "Sweet Little Sixteen," which is the only cut that Berry sings. The rest are all loose jams,
the band limbering up for 15 minutes, tops. Then, Berry puts down the guitar,
the band taking a cue to set down their instruments, too.
Berry shakes some hands, then walks offstage. That was soundcheck.
Out near the back steps, fans are already
sitting in clusters, or standing with photos.
Not many, but a few, obviously drawn by the chance to get a quick word or an autograph.
His first appearance outside, with his band being interviewed, is classic Berry, right out of the pages of a fanzine:
he pops his head out, starts talking about the dents on his car, then zips right back into the venue.
The band's non-plussed, not even turning around to hear his chirps about the mild amount of nicks on the vehicle.
Drummer Kuban, a veteran of thousands of gigs,
from teen towns to oldies shows,
is excited about the night's events. But first, he's got to run to a singles event in Frontenac,
checking out one of his many bookings. It's a relative brand of excitement, then.
"This, to me, is definitely a bigger show,"
he says. "In the smaller club, the people are right up on the stage.
This, this building holds a lot more people. For me, this is a lot of fun."
Lohr adds that "This is more like one of
the old San Francisco Fillmore shows.
You see the posters – and I collect a lot of those – with Chuck Berry and two opening bands, just like tonight.
This one's got the same kind of status. It's kind of cool."
With a good 100 years of performance between
them, this trio's relatively used to the line of questioning.
(Or, maybe, the questioner is thrown for a loop by Berry's car-inspection cameo.)
They share little tips, confirming what a lot of interviews have mentioned.
But they're not really opening up anything new.
Set lists, for example. What's on tonight's?
"Oh, there's no setlist," says Lohr.
"We know that at some point, we're probably going to play 'Johnnie B. Goode,'
and at some point, he's probably going to the duck walk. Everything else is up for grabs. I think he does it to keep it fresh."
Adds Kuban, "It gives you a charge every time you play."
Rounds out Lohr, "Coming from a guy like Bob Kuban, who's been there, that's saying a lot. Only Chuck can do it."
And that's exactly what he'll do. After a roots
rock set from the well-received Springfield, MO wise-guys the Morells,
the stage is turned over to Leon Russell. His 45-minute appearance is either taken with reverence or boredom
by most of the crowd, as he trots out warhorse covers and originals that are burned into every jukebox
in pockets of the South Side.
At a few minutes to 10 p.m., the crowd begins
to move up front. It's a combination that
only Berry can draw in St. Louis: punks, with safety-pinned t-shirts; bikers in bandanas;
carefully-coifed yuppies, sipping martinis; kids under-10 and their 40-year-old folks.
When Berry enters, the crowd greets him with a
respectful roar, warmed up by Joe Edwards' enthused intro.
The star, dressed in a red, sequined shirt, bolo-tie and black slacks, quickly rips into his classics,
his son clearly taking part in more of the show than expected: there for the first song, there for the last.
Daughter Ingrid Berry also comes out for a series of cameos, on vocals and harp. The band, though able,
plays the kind of loose set demanded by their leader, who often just tears off the riff,
the rest falling quickly into place. His natural charisma's still there.
By the end of the evening, he has a couple
people come onstage to dance, after running through most,
but not all, of the hits. Within a minute, several dozen people are up there, security milling around,
making sure that cords stay in place, that mics don't fly off and into the audience.
Folks whip out their cellular phones, while looking pleased as punch. Out to the side of the bedlam,
Berry waves, takes out his guitar and exits near the Pageant's spacious backstage area.
It's Charles Berry Jr. who does the honors of
sending off the crowd, while tossing picks into the audience.
The house lights come on and the PA kicks in. The show's over.
Loose, unrehearsed for the most part, at times
Chuck Berry's shows are a St. Louis tradition, people getting pretty darned much what they expected.
07.06.01 - Chicago, IL - Chicago Blues Festival
Review by Deja.com
"Perform" is in question with Berry. I'd heard for the past year that he'd been playing out some in clubs around St. Louis, and I was anxious to see whether he was truly doing good shows or not. Sadly, if what we all saw in Chicago last Thursday was typical of Chuck Berry's performances lately, his performances are an embarrassment. I don't think he's lost the ability to play -- he just was unprepared to perform well. He sounded like he hadn't practiced his guitar playing.
But, yet, he drew cheers from the majority of the crowd because -- well -- he's CHUCK BERRY. The father of rock n roll, to many. Much to his credit, he did not play "My Ding-A-Ling". It was hard, though, for the band playing behind him to cover his mistakes. They were very, very obvious.
But, again -- he's working because clubs and festivals are willing to book him. They're willing to book him because, no matter what kind of show he actually delivers, an audience's anticipation of his performance sells tickets. A moot point in Chicago, because the festival is free, but not many festivals are. he name Chuck Berry at the top of the bill for any festival WILL sell tickets. By the time the audience realizes how uninspired and mistake-filled his performance is, they've already paid to get in the gate.
While a great performance by others can't completely make up for a lackluster one from someone else, I feel compelled to mention here that the other three headliners at the Chicago Blues Festival were stunning. Ike Turner, Otis Rush and Irma Thomas put on a display that nearly made me forget all about Chuck Berry.
Otis Rush, especially, just knocked me flat with his playing. He always does when he's "on". I'm happy to report that he's been more on than off lately. Otis is one of the few players who can literally move me to tears with his playing. His set at the Chicago Blues Festival was absolutely flawless, backed by a band consisting of Harlen Tersen on bass, Bob Levis on guitar, Marty Sammen on piano and Big Ray on drums. The first three names might be more familiar to you than the last. Big Ray does double duty as a drummer occasionally, but is also one of the doormen at B.L.U.E.S. On Halsted here in Chicago. And a heluva nice guy. You can catch him as doorman at B.L.U.E.S. during the week, most often.
Otis Rush will be playing again at Buddy Guy's Legends this coming Saturday with much the same band, although I've heard a rumor that Harlen Tersen will not be the bass player this time around. For a cover charge of only $12.00 this show will definitely be worth it. I'll be shooting the Blues On The Fox Festival in Aurora, Illinois on Saturday (lineup includes Kenny Neal, Eddie C. Campbell and Anson Funderburgh w/Sam Myers), but will be RUSHING back to the city to catch Otis' last show of the night.
The final headliner of the festival was Irma Thomas. Her entire show was effortless and flawless. Irma's got a voice as smooth as silk and as effortless as ever. She's got one of the greatest stage personas in the business. Why this wonderful woman doesn't headline more festivals every year is beyond me. Her band was solid, her set seamless and her whole act the very opposite of Chuck Berry's abomidable show the first night. A great way to end the festival.
Rock'n'Roll legend Chuck Berry headlined the first day. Having seen him four years ago, I was well surprised and pleased with his performances. He still knows how to rock, he just came on stage and started his thang: songs from the past expressing the spirit of the youth in the 50s. The crowd raised up and didn't sit down again. Additionaly, Chuck did some slow blues tunes, here you could see his St. Louis roots. Today at age 74, Chuck is in good condition, and the only cut is that he can't do his famous duck walk anymore. Later I've read some complaints about his show, my impression was different.
04.07.01 - Jacksonville, FL - Metropolitan Park
Review by Lori
Tonight I listened to Chuck Berry in person at
Jacksonville's July 4th holiday concert at Metropolitan Park.
He gave a really great performance. He made the audience rock. I have heard his songs over the years
but this is the first time listened to him live. He was really electrifying. After the concert my husband searched
the internet for a Bio on him. I was amazed at his accomplishment. He truely is Mr. Rock'n'Roll.
Berry, Social Distortion
07.07.01 - Irvine, CA - Hootenanny Festival
Review by Randy Lewis
The annual Hootenanny Festival
always celebrates the maverick spirit of roots
rock and punk music, and this year's edition on Saturday at a new site--Hidden
Valley Ranch in Irvine, adjacent to Verizon Wireless Amphitheater--was no
But thanks to key moments in
headlining performances by rock elder statesman
Chuck Berry and veteran punk band Social Distortion, Hootenanny 2001 also turned
into a poignant thanksgiving for another day on planet Earth.
The recent deaths of John Lee
Hooker and Chet Atkins combined with the
realization that Berry turns 75 later this year to make his atypically focused
and energetic performance all the sweeter. Midway through his hourlong set,
Berry gave a respectful nod to mortality with an unexpected version of Tony Joe
White's country waltz " 3/4 Time," in which he sang: "While I'm still kickin' /
I'm gonna keep pickin' my tunes / I love what I'm doing / I hope it don't end
Where his performances in recent
years have been wildly erratic, Berry largely
played his Rock 101 classics in full, inhabiting rather than simply reciting
those artful lyrics.
Berry, Lucky Peterson
22.07.01 - Antibes, France - Juan Les Pins
Review by Julien Benz
Am 22. Juli 2001, trat Chuck Berry beim
"Antibes-Jazz-Festival" in Antibes-Juanlespins (Frankreich) auf.
Das kleine Konzertgelände, welches direkt am Ufer des Meeres lag, und von hohen Palmen überwachsen war,
trug nicht wenig zu dem besonderen Flair bei, welches die Besucher des Konzertes den ganzen Abend begleiten sollte.
Um 20.00 Uhr eröffnete Lucky Peterson den Abend. Lucky spielte ungefähr eine Stunde Blues vom Feinsten;
ihm gelang es, die Menge der Besucher, die am Anfang noch auf ihren Sitzplätzen verharrte, davon zu entreißen.
Als Lucky Peterson seine Show beendet hatte, folgte eine ca. 15 Minuten lange Konzertpause.
in der Zwischenzeit war die Sonne schon fast ganz im Meer versunken, und das mit
Palmen übersähte Gelände wurde beleuchtet. Die Besucher hatten sich mit Bier und französischem Pflaumenkucken
verköstigt, und warteten gespannt auf Chuck Berry.
Ein Bühnenarbeiter trug Chuck´s rote Gitarre
auf die Bühne, dann verdunkelte sich das Licht.
Chuck Berry betrat die Bühne, schnallte sich seine Gitarre über und eröffnete die Show erwartungsgemäß mit
"Roll Over Beethoven". Er spielte lediglich die erste Strophe, dann leitete er das Stück langsam in "Beer Drinkin' Woman" über.
Nachdem er ungefähr 2 Strophen davon intoniert hatte, wurde der Rhytmus wieder schneller, und Chuck spielte
plötzlich wieder "Roll Over Beethoven". Er fügte eines seiner typischen Gitarrensolos bei, und beendete das Eingangslied.
Chuck begrüßte alle, brachte seine Bewunderung für Landschaft und Französinnen zum Ausdruck, und begann zu dichten:
"While I´m still kickin´, I´m gonna keep pickin' my tunes, I love what I'm doing, and I hope, it don´'t end to soon."
Chuck wirkte beim ersten Lied leicht fragil, dies sollte sich jedoch binnen von Sekunden ändern. Nachdem die Security
ein paar Photographen vom unmittelbaren Bühnenbereich entfernte, bemerkte Chuck lediglich, daß er in Antibes keine
Security benötigen würde. Die Security gestattete den Photographen, Chuck Berry auch über das erste Lied hinaus zu filmen.
Chuck Berry holte ein kleines Mädchen auf die Bühne, dem er den Namen "Carol" gab. Zusammen mit "Carol" spielte er den
gleichnamigen Song "Carol". Das kleine Mädchen schien leicht verlegen, freute sich aber riesig.
Nachdem sich Chuck bei der kleinen "Carol" bedankt hatte, und ihr beteuerte, daß er das Lied extra für sie geschrieben habe,
kündigte er seinen nächsten Song "Wee Wee Hours" an, den er auch sogleich zu spielen begann.
Chuck´s Pianist spielte ein so schönes Piano Solo, daß sich Chuck veranlaßt sah, die Menge auch von seinen
Klavierkünsten zu überzeugen. Chuck setzte sich ans Klavier, schob die Gitarre auf den Rücken,
um ein original "Berry Piano Solo" zu spielen. Das Solo beschränkte sich auf ein paar wenige Töne.
Als Chuck nicht mehr weiter wußte, verharrte er längere Zeit auf einem Ton; aber die übrige Band
wollte sich einfach nicht anpassen! Daraufhin meinte Chuck, daß er wohl kein zweiter Ray Charles werden würde,
und es wohl besser wäre, wenn er das Klavierspiel wieder seinem Pianisten überlassen würde.
Im Anschluß spielte er "My Ding A Ling", das er noch mit einer zusätzlichen Strophe ergänzte:
"...75 years to old for school..." Als nächstes Lied folgte "Memphis", besser bekannt als "Memphis Tennessee".
Von allen Live Versionen dieses Liedes, die ich gehört habe, war dies die beste.
Bei "Memphis" überzeugte Chuck durch ein sehr langes, bluesig gespieltes Gitarrensolo.
Weiter ging's mit "Let It Rock" und "Nadine" Als er das Lied beendet hatte, forderte er die Security auf,
ihm Frauen auf die Bühne zu bringen, die ihm helfen sollten, seine letzte Nummer zu bewältigen.
Er schloß mit "No Particular Place To Go/ School Days". Während des Gitarrensolos riß eine
Seite an Chuck's Gitarre - von diesem Umstand ließ er sich nicht weiter beeindrucken -
er spielte einfach weiter. Im "Duckwalk" hüpfte Chuck über die Bühne, hüpfte um die tänzelnten Frauen herum und hindurch.
Als er zum Refrain von "School Days" ansetzte, stimmte eine der versammelten Frauen mit ein.
Chuck und die Sängerin ergäntzten sich sehr gut, es schien beiden großen Spaß zu machen.
Dann setzte Chuck zu einem nochmaligen Gitarrensolo an, ging in die Knie, um die Bühne im Duckwalk zu verlassen.
Mit einem weißen Handtuch winkend, ging er hinter die Backstage Absperrungen.
Das Publikum war begeistert, verlangte nach einer Zugabe- es sollte jedoch keine geben.
Unmittelbar nach der Show öffnete sich ein Stück seitwärts der Zuschauerränge das Tor,
ein schwarzer Mercedes 300 fuhr im Schrittempo aus dem unmittelbaren Backstage-Bereich heraus.
Um den Mercedes bildete sich eine große Menschentraube; dort schien es etwas besonderes zu geben:
Auch mir gelang es, einen Blick zu erhaschen. Am Steuer des Mercedes saß kein geringerer,
als Chuck Berry selbst, auf dem Beifahrersitz saß eine Frau, die restliche Band teilte sich zu viert die Rückbank des Wagens.
Chuck Berry gab bereitwillig Autogramme, versuchte durch ein paar Takte Französisch zu glänzen und
schien über die ganze Situation recht amüsiert zu sein. Nach ca. 10 Minuten startete Chuck Berry den Motor,
winkte, und bahnte sich den Weg durch das Gedränge hindurch. So viel zum 22. Juli 2001!
Sind Sie das nächste Mal auch da?
Berry, Little Richard
18.10.01 - St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
Review by King Kaufman
Johnny B. Goode turns 75
A hometown crowd and some political
heavyweights shower Chuck Berry with affection as he
shows them what made him a giant of popular music.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By King Kaufman
Oct. 19, 2001 | ST. LOUIS --
Five songs into his 75th-birthday show at the gleaming Pageant
nightclub Thursday night, five songs after being introduced by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt,
who awkwardly hugged him as he played the famous opening riff of "Roll Over Beethoven," Chuck Berry
had a question for the 1,500 people who had come to cheer his every move and shower him
with hometown affection.
"Have we played any blues?" he said.
"No!" answered the crowd.
"Well, are you having a good time?"
"Yeah!" came the answer.
"Then we won't play no blues. We'll play rock 'n' roll."
And with that he launched into another of his
signature tunes, the one with that very title,
"Rock and Roll Music."
Gephardt and others throughout the evening --
Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, and the mayors of St. Louis
and adjacent University City, where Berry plays a monthly show, and the chief executive of St. Louis County
all presented Berry with proclamations -- mentioned that Berry invented rock 'n' roll. It isn't really true,
but it's a fair enough conceit on a happy occasion. And while you could make a very good argument that
rock 'n' roll existed for a solid decade before Berry became popular in the mid-'50s, it's impossible to
imagine rock 'n' roll without him. As both a guitar player and a songwriter he influenced nearly everyone
who came after, and if he's not known as a great singer, it's only because his precise but playful phrasing
has been overshadowed by his other enormous skills.
At 75 he still can bring those skills to the
party, though he doles them out carefully. He still plays a mean guitar,
though he often let his son, also a guitar-playing Chuck Berry, have the spotlight. It wasn't until another two
songs had gone by that he first broke into his trademark duck walk, something he would do exactly four times
during the evening. He says it's not hard for him to do it even at his age, though it tires him out more than it
used to. Still, it's more of a hopping step than the squatting walk displayed in film clips from his younger days.
And while that unique, enunciating singing style is still there, he seemed to have trouble remembering lyrics,
and often found himself a little behind the song, improvising a bit to catch up.
But nobody minded, nor should they. "To be
beside a living legend," Gov. Holden said, "you're walking
among one of the giants of music, of rock 'n' roll. He's from Missouri, from St. Louis. He makes us all proud."
And Thursday night the hometown crowd ate him
up. This is not a city long on living legends who
don't play baseball, and even though this legend plays every month right down the street at a smaller
club called Blueberry Hill, an eager crowd turned out to celebrate. They lined up early and filled the
place an hour before the music started, three hours before Berry hit the stage. The demographics
skewed older and the conversations tended toward mortgage rates and pro football, not fast cars and
teenage dances, but they cheered every musician's every move, and by the time Little Richard began his act,
the dance floor, where younger folks congregated, was jumping.
Berry, in a sequined red shirt and black slacks,
made his first appearance after blues guitarist Duke Robillard
opened the show. The politicians spoke briefly, and then the crowd roared when Berry walked out.
He yelled, "Thank you!" and pumped his arms in the air. The crowd kept roaring. Berry has a reputation for
being difficult and diffident, stubborn and moody. These qualities were on display in an excellent
documentary about his 60th birthday shows, "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll." They were nowhere
to be seen Thursday. Onstage and off he was gracious, friendly, funny. Asked if he'd mellowed in his senior
years, he said, "I'd say yeah right away. I don't know what you mean even, but I'll say yeah," and laughed.
Now, with the crowd roaring, he appeared near tears. "I love you!" he shouted, then retreated backstage.
Little Richard, though six years or nine years
or some other number of years younger than Berry
(there is disagreement about both of their ages among various references), seems older, more of a shadow
of his former self. He moved gingerly and employed a number of showbiz stratagems, such as pulling fans
out of the audience to dance onstage, to buy time between songs, which left him breathing heavily even
when he hadn't done much. For the most part he sang only the choruses of his hits, not the verses,
and he let his crack band take frequent, long solos.
But every few minutes he let loose with one of
his falsetto wails -- "Wooooo!" -- or dug in at the piano for a
few bars, and you'd think, "Oh my goodness, that's Little Richard up there." Without him, too, rock 'n' roll
as we know it would be a very different and much poorer thing.
Backstage, calls came in from celebrity
well-wishers. The rock star cameos you might expect at such an event
didn't materialize Thursday. "Because of the two huge benefits that are being done in D.C. and New York,
a lot of people are committed to that," said Joe Edwards, the owner of the Pageant as well as the Blueberry Hill.
"And a lot of people are being cautious about their travel." The only musician who sat in with Berry's band
Thursday was Daryl Davis, a piano player from Maryland, unknown to the audience, who plays with
Berry on the East Coast.
Gephardt reminisced about going to Southwest
High School in St. Louis. "When I was young, in high school,
we had Ike and Tina Turner here, and we had Chuck Berry," he said. "We were lucky."
Berry took the stage and had some trouble with
the sound, and the band was a bit ragged, but the energy
passing from the crowd to the musicians and back more than made up for it. He peeled off recognizable
licks and improvised solos, throwing in the occasional shimmy and shake, conducting the band with his left leg.
He smiled and mugged as he sang or sometimes just spoke his familiar, deceptively simple lyrics,
conversational rhymes that effortlessly fit the rhythm of the music.
Spending an evening with Berry's music reminds
you what a wonderful writer he was in his prime.
Some of his lyrics -- "Roll over, Beethoven/ Tell Tchaikovsky the news," for example -- are so famous,
so often repeated, that it's hard to appreciate their wit and originality. And sometimes his stories,
teen-themed though they are, are so compelling that the wordplay is easy to miss. Everyone who's heard
"Memphis, Tennessee" remembers the twist, that "Marie is only 6 years old," but it's easy to forget that
at one point Marie has "hurry-home drops on her cheeks." In "Nadine," which Berry sang well Thursday,
the singer, trying to push through a crowd to his girl, "was campaign shouting like a Southern diplomat."
In the all-but-autobiographical "Johnny B.
Goode," which came near the end of the show, after his daughter,
Ingrid Clay, sang and played harmonica on a blues number, Berry let the audience sing the chorus.
"Go!" they shouted. "Go, Johnny, go!/Go! Go, Johnny, go!" Meaningless words, and yet almost anyone in
the Western world knows them as a cornerstone of late-20th century popular music.
Edwards, the club owner, had introduced the
star of the show by quoting John Lennon's famous line:
"If you tried to give rock 'n' roll another name, you might call it -- Chuck Berry!"
An hour later a dozen or so fans and family
members were onstage dancing as the band vamped away on an
extended version of "Reelin' and Rockin'," the closing number. Chuck Berry, a white towel draped around his
neck along with his red Gibson guitar, dropped to one knee in front of a 2-year-old girl, and with 1,500 people
begging him not to quit just yet, to keep playing just a little longer, he played a solo for her benefit as she
happily danced in place. She knows him only as great-granddad, but if she ever decides to give him another name,
she might call him rock 'n' roll.