Saturday, September 01, 2012

Chuck Berry: Movin' Through the Traffic Like a Mounted Cavalier

Starting just before 9 p.m. local time, Chuck Berry and his band began a gloriously ragged show -- sometimes sounding off scale and courting disaster, sometimes interweaving near-perfect doses of raw guitar power -- and even finely wrought beauty during "You Never Can Tell." Coming just two nights after Clint Eastwood's "Empty Chair" act, Chuck Berry's performance was often just as wild, but delivered with more grace. Wonderful. I was imagining Johnny Thunders, Sid Vicious and Keith Richards playing along with him in spirit. This was the real thing, uncorked.

Apparently the band was a little late coming from the airport, and so in between them and a warm-up performance by Andi Laree & Cory Elrod and crew, some strange old cowboy gave a bizarre standup improv -- he reminded me of Man Mountain Mike, the professional wrestler famous in the 1970s. 

When they did show up, Chuck Berry and crew played for a solid hour and change. This intimate concert was held in the Ballroom of the Fort Worth Convention Center. I'd say there were about 300 Spartans in attendance. Lucky for me! I'd always wanted to see Chuck, and now I have done so.

The backing band included Charles Edward Berry, Jr., on guitar, a keyboardist, harmonica player/backup vocalist, drummer and bass player. Chuck is skinny and was wearing in part a shiny red shirt and Greek fisherman's cap. His thin singing voice sounds the same as it must have sounded fifty plus years ago. And, as he noted: "I'm 85 -- I know what it means to stand." Now when he sings "I didn't know if I was dead or alive," he may mean that literally, upon waking. Still, believe it or not, he managed to do the "Duck Walk" for the finale. At his invitation, a score of women came up to the stage and danced -- security and organizers looked aghast. It was the perfect crescendo ending to a raucous performance. As Chuck said earlier in the show, "When it's over, it's over, Ladies and Gentlemen." 

Some of the songs covered in whole or in part:
"School Days"
"Rock and Roll Music"
"Let It Rock"
"You Never Can Tell"
"Honest I Do"
"My Ding-a-Ling"
"Johnny B. Goode"
"Nadine" (opening fragment)
"Reelin' and Rockin'"

Today's Rune: Harvest.  


Charles Gramlich said...

Would very much love to see him.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have always been partial to Maybelline.