Billed as the rock’n’roller’s 80th Birthday Farewell UK Tour, this first of two British concerts, studded with a starry support cast, more than lived up to the expectations of the pan-generational audience who had made it a sell-out.
Wearing white loafers and a white shirt under his black suit, he proved sprightlier than expected and launched effortlessly into a double whammy of Stick McGhee’s signature song, “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee’’, and “Down the Line’’, composed by fellow Sun Records artist Roy Orbison. He also revisited the repertoire he’d made his own in the Fifties including a rollicking version of Chuck Berry’s ‘’Sweet Little Sixteen’’ and ‘’No Headstone on My Grave’’.
In stronger voice on the uptempo material rather than the country ballads, Lewis punctuated the catchy choruses the boogie-woogie strides that have been his trademark for six decades and have lost none of their potency, even if he is more subdued than the piano-banging, piano-burning, wild man of yore. When he turned on Ken Lovelace, one of his two guitarists for playing a wrong chord during ‘’You Win Again’’, the fans caught a glimpse of Jerry Lee Lewis living up to his “Killer” nickname.