Most pre-Beatles rock stars carry their past like a burden that saps them of confidence and energy. Last night at Louie's Rock City, Jerry Lee Lewis carried his past like an unassailable badge of authority. Leaning back in his bar chair, he tickled and pounded the pianoas though there weren't anything he couldn't do to it. There wasn't. Just to prove he could do it all, he pulled off rockabilly, country and blues show stoppers. And when he reached down into his bottomless baritone, his choruses took on an unarguable air of finality.
On a country weeper like "Jealous of You," he rolled the notes around his big voice until they had collected more embellishments than a Christmas tree. On a traditional blues like "Trouble in Mind," a mischievous grin lurked behind his aching moan.
The 45-year-old Lewis looked trim in a tight blue T-shirt and under the familiar golden waves of hair. Nor has he lost his entertaining arrogance. He played the piano with his wrists, elbows, knees, heels, toes and derriere. Incredibly, everything was on the beat. With his fingers he created a rollicking boogie-woogie as if he were a self-sufficient dance band. "I'm the rockingest piano man you ever saw," he sang with a shout. Then he pushed the mike aside and proved it.