Jerry Lee Lewis, Manchester Apollo

Manchester Apollo

Rock's pantheon of bad boys doesn't host any badder than Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer's decades of self-destruction leave behind two dead wives, pills, booze, smashed-up pianos, one shot bassist and an accusation from Jimmy Swaggart that the singer was "in league with Satan". His British infamy centres around his 1958 marriage his 13-year-old cousin Myra Gale Brown and, of course, the way he put the essence of rock'n'roll rebellion on to wax.

Now touching 70, Lewis is showing few signs of mellowing. Walking manfully on in a dark suit like an old gangster, he looks slightly infirm but once he's at the piano the sparks fly. "Give me geetar, boy!" he yells at 50-ish guitarist who looks like he's just ridden in with Wyatt Earp.

It's equally surreal to see bands of aged teddy boys full regalia arguing with bouncers, despite the old boys looking more likely to draw a pension than a pistol.

Lewis's sense of mischief (and a few visits from the taxman) have kept him rocking, but he has as much attitude in his little finger - which dangerously assaults the high keys - as Eminem has in his whole body. "Mah track recud speaks fah itself," drawls the Killer. Meanwhile, his age and history brings that extra disturbing frisson to Sweet Little Sixteen.

The set is well-paced between slower country numbers and fast rock'n'rollers, with Lewis's accusing vocal powering them all. As the security men lose the argument and hordes end up dancing in the seats, the artist goes in for the kill. "I ain't fakin'!" he yells in Shakin' All Over. For the climax, he whacks his boot on the piano, plays it with his venerable bottom and kicks the stool into the startled guitarist, whose pained expression suggests new meaning to Great Balls of Fire.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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