"The Killer" lights it up in London. Jerry Lee Lewis, along with special guest artists, including Van Morrison, Dave Edmunds, John Lodge from the Moody Blues, Brian May of Queen, Dave Davies from the Kinks and many more p... more »erform to a sell-out audience in London's Labatt's Apollo. 61 minutes.« less
"I've owned this DVD for several years and was happy to see that others can enjoy it since it has been re-released and is therefore affordable again.
The charisma wafts from the stage from the very minute Jerry Lee Lewis sits down at the piano and breaks into a bit of rockabilly genius, "I Am What I Am." "I was born country", he wails, "but I was raised on rock 'n' roll. Oh, Hank Williams' music burnin' way down deep in Jerry Lee's soul. If Hank Williams were alive today......He'd say son, keep on movin', keep on shakin' away." This infectious rock/country gem could not have been a more fitting opener for what is a spellbinding, piano scorching, often astounding set of rockabilly, country and pure musicianship. While the effects of hard living are clearly etched on his face, at age 54 Lewis had lost none of his powers.......the amazing deft piano artistry and country/rock vocal wail are fully intact.
Unfortunately the credits are glaringly lax, naming musicians but not matching them with what they play, so one is left to guess which lesser known artist is playing what. But what an assemblage of talent: A six guitar attack, including Dave Davies (The Kinks), rockabilly stalwart Dave Edmunds, and Brian May (Queen). Of the three remaining guitarists, I recognized one, possibly two, as members of Lewis' regular touring band. Some of the other guitarists such as Davies and May join the entourage maybe half way through the set. And regrettably, the drummer providing the magnificent syncopy throughout remains anonymous. His timekeeping is almost the centerpiece of the performance, the glue which holds a collection of stars together. Completing this fine rock 'n' roll orchestra are two bassists: John Lodge (Moody Blues) and Phil Chen (Jeff Beck, David Lindley). Van Morrison makes a cameo, two song appearance. As further evidence of the inadequacy of the credits, the DVD cover says it took place at "London's Labatt's Apollo." the on-screen credits say, "London's Hammersmith Odeon." Someone was obviously very confused.
But these are minor deficiencies. The sound is great. I don't have an expensive stereo; my 100 Watt digital receiver/amp, two three-way speakers and a subwoofer all add up to about $450. Yet I challenge anyone to pump this DVD through a similar setup and not be convinced that Jerry Lee's piano is sitting in their home. The camera work is marvelous. Lewis' lightning quick dexterity on the ivories is in full view throughout from a close-up or side view, or an overhead lens looking straight down on the keys.
From the mentioned opening tune, Lewis moves into a somewhat perfunctory reading of the jumping country number, "I Don't Want to be Lonely Tonight." It could not be considered one of the highlights of the show. Williams' influence registers again as Lewis showcases his classic country wail with the Williams ballad, "You Win Again."
Next, things really get rolling with Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman." I haven't listened to a lot of Ray Charles, but I would be interested in hearing a Charles recording which showcases this kind of sprightly piano work.
Van Morrison weighs in next for a lively vocal duet with Lewis on the ballad, "Goodnight Irene." Morrison sticks around for another duet as Lewis taps into the Charles catalogue once again for a scorching "What'd I Say."
Next Lewis takes us all the way back to the Fifties and the vaults of Sun Records for a jumping "High School Confidential." The bandleader's wide grin at the tune's close is evidence that he has not yet completely submitted to the throes of addiction. "We got that one rollin' that time, now didn't we?" Lewis gushes. "Let's do it again." And they do. The pure rapture of rock 'n' roll is all over Jerry Lee's face and it's a joy to behold.
Six bell ringing guitarists, two bassists, and a most rock steady drummer add up to one superb rock 'n' roll orchestra, and they stay right in the groove for "Rockin' My Life Away", "Johnny B. Goode", "Whole Lotta Shakin'", "Great Balls of Fire", "Good Golly Miss Molly", and "Tutti Frutti."
The next tune is for me, along with the opener, the highlight of the show. I have played this DVD many times by now, and the sizzling "Mexicali Rose" has never failed yet to give me goose bumps. Herein lies Lewis' great legacy of innovation: I defy anyone to categorize this as rock or country, the two are so beautifully and inextricably combined. Lewis' barroom honky-tonk piano excursions are nothing but pure ecstasy.
The set concludes with more straight rock 'n' roll, "Wild One", the six guitars ringing the night away as acknowledging handshakes and nods are extended to Lewis by all as he exits.
Total running time is 61 minutes. This DVD would be worth the $15 I paid over the counter if all it contained were the country/rock genius of "I Am What I Am" and "Mexicali Rose." Add to that the other thrills herein, including a couple of sterling Ray Charles covers, and I can only call this a priceless addition to any collection."
A Disorganized but Enjoyable Concert with THE KILLER
Ronnie Milsap | Arizona | 06/25/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jerry Lee "The Killer" Lewis is joined on stage by a number of guests including Dave Edmonds, Brian May, Dave Davies, and rockabilly guitar legend James Burton in this 1989 concert filmed in London. The Killer is 54 years old and in solid form here. He can still rock a piano as well as ever, although he had mellowed a lot by this time and is no longer the wild man he was in his prime.
This show feels like it was put together in a hurry with very little rehearsal involved. The band starts off too slow on a couple of tunes and you can hear them speed up during the songs to correct the tempos. Jerry Lee never introduces any of the guests, and it seems he barely knows who they are either. Guitar players take the stage without warning or introduction, and at times they look confused over who should take a solo and who shouldn't. Brian May's guitar becomes unplugged during his first solo and he quickly dashes out of sight to correct the problem.
We also get a glimpse of Jerry Lee's volatile personality early in the show. He gets irritated at Dave Edmonds and James Burton while performing the Hank Williams classic "You win again". Jerry Lee scolds the two guitarists over the microphone by singing..."boys I wish you'd please learn your chords, it's just an old Hank Williams thing...". During the next song, Lewis stops in the middle of the tune to tell the bass player to turn down and the guitar players to turn up.
It is obvious this show was poorly organized with too many guitarists on stage at one time, and a band that is energetic but not well rehearsed. Fortunately, none of this seems to affect the quality of the music very much. The band keeps the music rocking with plenty of energy and they all seem to be enjoying themselves.
Van Morrison comes out to sing two duets with Lewis, and this seems to bring Jerry Lee out of his cranky mood for the remainder of the night. He continues to rock his way through other classics like "Johnny B. Good". "Great Balls of Fire", and a strong performance of "Whole lotta shakin' going on" to a happy audience. A sobbing young female fan unexpectedly gets up on stage and embraces Jerry Lee during the show.
The Killer closes out the concert with the classic "Wild One" where he stands up from the bench and proceeds to rock out on the piano with his great upper key poundings before leaving the stage. The guitar players then take over and it is one big blast of blaring electric guitars as they bring the show to a rockin' finish.
I would highly recommend this DVD to any Jerry Lee Lewis fan since it is the only full-length Lewis concert available at this time. This performance doesn't capture a prime Jerry Lee at his absolute best, but fans of The Killer will surely enjoy it despite the minor flaws."
Typical Full-Throttle Jerry Lee
plsilverman | USA | 06/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All the Jerry Lee videos in my collection are outstanding, and this is expected as there is a watchword for his career: CONSISTENCY. And when it comes to recordings and the above-mentioned medium, add QUALITY - that's what you get here, even when the sit-in superstars mess up a chord or two. JLL is on top throughout. "High School Confidential" is foundational rock and roll to begin with, but wait till you witness this jamming arrangement! A nice surprise is "Goodnight Irene". Another is the standby "I Got A Woman" (a.k.a the Roy Orbison improvisation titled "Mean Woman Blues" and as usual mis-titled on a Lee Lewis package). "Wild One" is as intense as the Sun era recording."
Bill Taylor | Romney,WV | 09/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's 1989 and the Killer is trying to jumpstart a "comeback" on the hype of a movie about to be released called "Great Balls of Fire" and he is also back in England to tour,ironically,England,more precisely,London was the scene of the great demise back in 1958,however,Jerry Lee has since gone on to being, bigger and vastly more appreciated there'in England than he is at home in the USA...at any rate,he is ready to ROCK!!! And rock he does on this hour set,with help from Van the Man,the DAvies brothers,Brian May,James Burton,Dave Edmunds,John Lodge,and of course,Kenny Lovelace. The first several tunes find the Killer rather sullen and going through the motions,however,when Van comes on to join Jerry Lee things pick up considerably with "What'd I Say" and a rockin version of "Goodnight Irene" followed by a red hot "Great Balls of Fire" with a sizzling solo by Brian May and a vocal match by JLL,Jerry even declares at the end of the tune that Brian "sure brought things to life and really made me want to sing Great Balls of Fire Again"!! That quote sums up the frustration of Jerry Lee Lewis,wanting to be challenged again,and sometimes,on a good night,being so. On this night the Killer met and in most cases exceded the challenge,dig the cut of "Johnny B.Goode",it was 1964 at the Star Club again (or someplace just as high energy)yet this cut was also 1989,and the Killer was hangin in! This is a great video,a statement of perserverence through the sheer belief in ones self,and of course,the all mighty healing power of good ol'rock-n-roll...think about it!!! And add this performance to your collection."
Raven A. Ruch | Vancouver, WA USA | 02/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a new fan of Jerry Lee Lewis, and have been trying to get my hands on anything live because after listening to his music, I realized this is one performer you have to see live. I love piano, I come from a very musical family, and piano was always my favorite. I also love "boogie woogie" music. This show was very exciting and fun to watch. Jerry Lee plays even more of the High School song to give Brian May the chance to play his guitar after he has an "instrument malfunction". He is very kind to the fan who got on the stage. And he seemed to be in some pain in his back. It was pretty easy to see that he was wearing a back brace. His musical talent is prodigious, and he should be the King of Rock, not Elvis. He was trying to keep all the guitarists in control, kind of like a band leader would do, and he does it. It did seem like it took him some time (5 songs) to really warm up. But that is just the way he seems to be."