The tone of the concert was set early as a fan from the first
few rows questioned Jerry Lee Lewis, who opened the concert,
about his ability to still rock as he sat down at the piano
to start the show.
Can I rock?” said Lewis. “I think my track record
speaks for itself,” he could have been speaking for all
three of the artists performing that night.
He then immediately broke into his trademark blistering piano
playing and proceeded to belt out lyrics with the same vibrancy
and hint of country twang that made him famous.
Playing timeless classics such as “Great Balls of Fire” and “Whole
Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” Lewis had a few
members of the somewhat subdued crowd dancing in the isles
and throwing leis to him up on stage. Always known for being
cocky and rude to fans and media, Lewis showed his other side
that night in sharing laughs through his many friendly exchanges
with the crowd. He ended his 50-minute set by standing up and
kicking the piano bench back, and punishing the keys, before
throwing up his hands and walking off stage to a standing ovation.
After a short intermission, Little Richard’s amusingly
energetic band jammed for 5-10 minutes before the second legend
of the night came out—Little Richard himself—with
a smooth shuffle that foreshadowed what would come in his set.
He glided toward the piano, climbed on top, and raised his
arms up drawing more and more cheers from the crowd. He then
stepped down, sat on the piano bench, and wasted no time busting
out with “Good Golly Miss Molly.”
Little Richard’s animated personality shined through
the many stories he stopped to tell the crowd about the origins
of certain songs, and when he ordered security to bring up
two people from every nationality in the building to dance
on stage. One story was about washing dishes back in the 1950s
and realizing his hands were “too pretty” to stick
in one more dirty pot. He didn’t want to wash anymore,
so when his fellow employees told him to, he replied, “ a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom.”
I didn’t know what it meant,” he said. “But
I liked the way it sounded,” and the famous song “Tuttie
Fruiti-Aw Rootie” was born.
He played all the hits including “Lucille” and “Keep
a Knockin’” while breaking into random “Little
Richard screams” and signing posters and throwing them
into the crowd. He played for close to an hour and promised
to set up a booth for more autographs after the show.
I’ll be 71 in two weeks,” said Little Richard. “And
I’m still so pretty.”
After another short intermission, the lights lowered and
the stage came back to life as a bass player, drummer,
and a piano
player took their places. Then, out of the darkness, with
a cool swagger step and a strum of the guitar, came none
than Chuck Berry. Sporting a flashy red shirt as fiery
as his guitar playing, Berry opened his set by telling
the crowd, “Hope
ya’ll don’t mind, I going to start off with a little
bit of the blues.” He began with a funky blues riff that
wailed the pain and sorrow of the song from his guitar with
effortless bending of the strings.
He then attempted to take the crowd on a ride of rock ‘n’ roll
history with classics like “Roll over Beethoven” and “Sweet
Little 16,” but the sound system was failing sending
Berry to the sound director’s board numerous times to
try and fix the problem.Though frustrated by problems out of
his control, Berry put on an amazing show highlighted by his
solo performance of the crowd favorite “My Dingle Ling” which
evoked laughs and of reassurances from the crowd.
As the show came to a close, there was a buzz about the
crowd. They knew what they had just witnessed; musical
genius, rock ‘n’ roll
from its creators, the stuff that legends are made of, and
most of all good music.