There he was, Jerry Lee Lewis, pounding the devil out of the piano at the Wax Museum last night, reigniting the past with "Great Balls of Fire," telling a sellout crowd the way it was. Not surprisingly, the good times rolled.
Thinner and no longer inclined to climb on his piano (though every now and then he still punctuates a melody by dropping his foot on the keyboard), Lewis remains a rock 'n' roll phenomenon. He opened with a series of honky-tonk tunes, lacing them with so many autobiographical asides that by the time he got around to singing "My Life Would Make a Damn Good Country Song," the refrain seemed like a colossal understatement.
From there the show, which featured Lewis' band, the Memphis Beats, progressed randomly but inexorably, the singer beginning a song just as abruptly as he would end it. Although he favored too many country tunes, and only teased the crowd with a couple bars of "Breathless," the old magic returned often, especially when Lewis was pumping for joy on rockers like "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." During those moments he was as invincible as ever.
Evan Johns and the H-Bombs opened the show. The band members wore formal attire for the occasion, but there was nothing proper about the music they performed. Raw and raucous, it cut to the heart of Memphis rock and blues.