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Where: Bobital, France (Festival des Terre Neuvas)
When: July 8, 2006
Written by: Wolfgang Guhl


21.28 - 21.59 (31 minutes)
Down The Line
High School Confidential
Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee
Mexicali Rose
Chantilly Lace
Great Balls Of Fire
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

22.44 - 23.04 (20 minutes)

23.04 - 23.36 (32 minutes)
Good Golly Miss Molly
Old Time Rock'n'Roll
Blueberry Hill
Bony Maronie
Bama Lama Bama Loo
Keep A Knockin'
Jenny Jenny (with Chuck Berry)
Long Tall Sally

23.41 - 00.07 (26 minutes)
Roll Over Beethoven
Let It Rock
Mean Old World
Around And Around
It Hurts Me Too
Rock'n'Roll Music
Little Queenie (with Jean-Louis Aubert)
Let It Rock (with Jean-Louis Aubert)
Johnny B. Goode (with Jean-Louis Aubert)

When I arrived at the festival site at around 17.30 I was shocked to see the audience. Out of 50,000 there were about 40,000 drunk young people under the age of 30, most under 20. When I entered there were some riots and I almost got hit by a beer bottle. At this moment I thought about turning around and missing the whole thing, but eventually I decided to give the show a go. I arrived at the already packed Scene 1 where the Legends were going to perform. As I arrived Patrice was on stage. Some sort of reggae artist. Not that bad, but the audience was crazy. Drunk, dancing, fighting. Chuck Berry describes such kind of festival in his autobiography and why they often cause trouble. Acts appeared as scheduled. Next was Jean-Louis Aubert, obviously very popular in France. Not bad either, but I was glad to see him leave, as this meant the entrance of Jerry Lee Lewis.

The Killer Band did not do any numbers (they would have been out of place anyway). Instead Jerry got introduced by a member of the festival staff. "The Legend, Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis". There he was, looking good and trim. He kicked off with "Down The Line" and from the start there were problems with the sound. His voice was almost inaudible, the piano too quiet. He could be seen on the big screens. He had everything under control. His hands did not shake at all, but the piano pounding was not too hard either. A lengthy "High School Confidential" was next, disturbed by several sound problems. Jerry accepted it, knowing that 50,000 people were watching him. The people liked him. He is no longer the dangerous Killer he used to be, but a nice old man who still plays solid concerts. The Blues-Rocker "Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee" went down especially well with the young folks. "Mexicali Rose" and "Chantilly Lace" made clear that Jerry totally left out slow songs, instead playing Rock'n'Roll only to satisfy the crowd which was longing to hear Rock'n'Roll. He played solid version which lacked a bit of energy, but for the last two songs Jerry speeded things up. An extented "Great Balls Of Fire" and a wild "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" including stool kick and butt-piano-playing closed out the best show of the night.

Worse, much worse was to come, in personifacion of the self-proclaimed "Architect Of Rock'n'Roll". After a 45-minute (!) long break, Little Richard's Band finally entered the stage, to play a boring 20-minute long Instrumental. At 23.04 Little Richard finally entered the stage, 65 minutes after Jerry Lee left it. Richard was in much worse condition than Jerry has ever been. It was shocking to see. He could not walk without help, no more piano climbing. Mr Penniman was in a bad mood from the beginning. First he asked to turn cameras and video screens off. A scandal, considering some people were standing about 2 miles from the stage. He accused Patrick Rocher of ripping him off via a DVD-release of the festival which is of course complete nonsense. A lacklustre "Good Golly Miss Molly" was the opener. Several thousand people had seen enough and left the site. Already for the second number he asked dancers from the audience to come on stage to play "Old Time Rock'n'Roll" which mainly consisted of repeating the chorus over and over again. Then he criticized the organization of the festival, claiming it took them 8,5 hours to get him from Paris to Bobital. A solid version of "Blueberry Hill" was accepted by the audience while "Bony Maronie" was his only real crowd-pleaser. The rockin' theme of the night was represented by two more rockers, "Bama Lama Bama Loo" and "Keep A Knockin'". Between numbers he was talking a lot, all in all, he maybe played 20 minutes of music that night. Now stage hands gave him signs to get off. Richard was furious. Just a couple of quotes:
"Oh, time to get off. Chuck is coming?!"
"This is Chuck Berry's mess!" "Leave me alone!"
"I don't wanna play with Chuck, but they put me on the same bill."
"Chuck is inviting dancers to the stage. He watched me doing that, then did it himself. He stole it from me!"
"He cannot follow an act he can't follow!!!"
The he finally started "Jenny Jenny" with a couple of more dancers. Chuck had heard every word Richard and had seen enough. He, too entered the stage, standing next to Richard, grinning at him. Richard ignored him. While Richard played, Chuck walked over to his amp and started tuning his guitar! This caused some strange noise from his guitar, therefore completely ruining Richard's song. Chuck left, but Richard had enough. He closed with "Long Tall Sally", singing only the first verse. Supported by staff he left the stage. Chuck turned up again and talked to Richard while he was trying to leave the stage. Richard showed no reaction as far as I could see it.

The Little Richard mess ruined the whole schedule. Chuck's act was cut short, as he told the audience "his main man (Patrick Rocher) asked him to do 15 minutes only and that he loves him, but he would play 35". While stage people tried to set things up, Chuck was wandering around the stage. He was joined by a nameless drummer, Julien, an excellent piano player from France and Jim Marsala. No Ingrid, no Charles Jr. After a 5-minute intermission, Chuck started playing a bluesy "Roll Over Beethoven" with the drummer only as the piano and bass where still not plugged in. He came across very well, the crowd's favourite that night even though Little Richard usually would have the skills to entertain them the best. But Chuck looked 30 years younger, running around the stage, duckwalking and dancing. He played a selection of Rock- and Blues-Classics, "Let It Rock" (now with piano and bass!), "Mean Old World", "Around And Around" (hot version!), "It Hurts Me Too" and "Rock'n'Roll Music". "Carol" followed and during "Little Queenie", the popular Jean-Louis Aubert entered and Chuck welcomed him with open arms, much to everyone's surprise. They shared verses and guitar solos during "Little Queenie" and a second version of "Let It Rock" (only a snippet) that night. Jean-Louis played quite well and looked happy to play with an absolute legend. Both Chuck and the audience loved it. During "Johnny B. Goode" dancers entered the stage, but not by Chuck's request. Patrick Rocher probably wanted to end the show as the next act was waiting to go on. Chuck already stayed overtime, but realized the sign and quickly left. If it wasn't for several bum notes and mixed  up lyrics I would say Chuck was the man of the night, but Jerry's very solid performance was overall superior and more professional.

All in all a weird night with none of the Legends on top form; but certainly memorable because of the Richard vs. Chuck argument.



Last update: August 17, 2007
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