With shouts of “I love you Jerry” and “Thank You Jerry” and periodic standing ovations, singer/songwriter/pianist Jerry Lee Lewis, one of the remaining architects and innovators of rock and roll (along with Little Richard), received a wonderful, appreciative and respectful homecoming at The Theater at The Ace Hotel on Friday, November 24.
Known for playing within the genres of rock and roll, rockabilly, country, gospel, honky-took and blues, Lewis’ music knows no stylistic boundaries. He also will forever be remembered for popularizing the piano as an important instrument in rock and roll. Back in the day, Lewis performed with wild abandon, attacking the keys with complete ferocity, standing up and playing the piano and other crazy-ass antics — like setting the piano on fire. His playing style forever cemented his infamous reputation and serves notice that he is a consummate entertainer and showman.
And now, many years later at the show at The Ace Hotel, “The Killer,” looking great at 82, wearing a flashy gold suit. It’s important to note that the audience came to see this legend perform live, not recreate the impossible past. Lewis seemed to really give what he could, no matter the decade in his life and regardless of his age. He took to the stage, sat and played piano, sang and held court, mesmerizing the audience with his still strong, steely and commanding presence.
Lewis gave off a feisty attitude with a dramatic gesture here and there, or by utilizing a sweeping flourish of the hand. He often danced in his chair and seemed to be having a great time, enjoying himself between sips of Sprite. Lewis dazzled with his impeccable, rip roaring chops intact. He played the hell out of the songs with finesse, fire and nimbleness. Though his voice sounded a bit weak and uneven at times, for the most part, his instrument soared mightily, hitting all the right notes, and was spot on when then Lewis performed some of his biggest and most memorable hits: “Whole Lot Of Shaking Going On” and “Great Balls Of Fire.”
One of the biggest highlights of the night was when his good friend — and fellow musician and star in his own right — Kris Kristofferson joined Lewis to perform and sing “Me and Bobby McGee” together. Lewis was supported by his incredibly talented, taunt, crack power trio of a band featuring longtime sideman and guitarist Kenny Lovelace, well-known studio musician and drummer Kenny Aronoff and bassist Sonny Gaines.
The show began with a video montage showing the career achievements of Jerry Lee Lewis, along with interviews about him from his fellow musicians and contemporaries who have since passed away, including legends Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and more. It was a strong reminder of the substantial impact rock and roll has had on the public and cultural consciousness since its inception. Jerry Lee Lewis brought vintage rock and roll home to The Theater At The Ace Hotel for one night. This great show reminded concertgoers good, classic songs continue to matter and never go out of style.