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Where: Gulfport, Mississippi (Grand Casino Gulfport)
When: August 28, 2005
Written by: Becky Ford

Set List:

1) Roll Over Beethoven
2) Georgia on My Mind
3) Sweet Little 16
4) Touching Home
5) You Win Again (unsure)
6) Before the Night is Over
7) Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
8) Coming Back for More
9) Rockin' My Life Away
10) That Kind of Fool
11) Johnny B. Goode
12) Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave
13) Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
14) Great Balls of Fire

The band came out right at 8:00. Their set:
1) Way Down
2) Lonely Weekends
3) Bye Bye Johnny B. Goode
4) Big Boss Man

The band had to stop a few seconds into Way Down to fix the sound – there was some feedback and even after they stopped playing there was a sharp constant ringing. That fixed, they resumed the song. The band was as great as in Marksville a few weeks before. They got the crowd warmed up and ready to go.

Kenny introduced Jerry and the crowd went wild! Dressed in a pinstriped suit and white button-up dress shirt, Jerry sat down at the piano, said, “Alright, mercy!” and started Roll Over Beethoven, at a frenzied pace with his fingers flying across the keyboard!

Before the applause really died down, he began Georgia On My Mind. Jerry seemed serious, almost melancholy, and it was a huge tempo change from the previous song. My feeling was that the song was beautiful and sweet, but that he seemed very sad as he played it. After it ended, he adjusted his shirt collar and said, "Knew something was chokin' me!"

If he had been in a down mood, it didn't last, because after Georgia, the crowd began yelling out their requests and he good-naturedly bantered with them. When one person suggested Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave, Jerry replied, “Not a good idea with that hurricane (Hurricane Katrina) coming in...but how about we give you some rock and roll,” and then he started Sweet Little 16. This song was GR! EAT – Jerry did his hand gestures throughout the song, and Kenny and Buck really rocked!

After the song, Jerry commented that he'd played the first verse, the second verse, then the first verse again. As if any of us noticed or even cared! As long as he was playing, we were happy. Then the audience piped up with their song requests again. After one request, which I didn't catch, Jerry replied with, “How much money you got?” He added, “I haven't done that one in a long time.” Kenny approached him, they talked a bit, then Jerry said “That's in C.” They began Touching Home, then Jerry stopped and said, “You're right, it *is* in G,” and they started over. The audience loved it. After the song, Jerry said, “I didn't know if I still remembered the words to that one.”

Next, Jerry played what may have been You Win Again. A slower song and one I wasn't really familiar with, I decided to take the opportunity to approach the stage with my kids. We had really lousy seats (more on this later), so it was a bit of a trek to the stage. I picked up my 4-year-old daughter and walked up to the stage just as the song ended. My daughter waved at him and he smiled and waved back to her, and said something that in my excitement I don't even remember. To be that close to The Killer, the legend whose songs I've played over and over and over!

We returned to our seats after snapping a few pictures and as Jerry started Before the Night is Over, a song he said he plays with B.B. King on his new CD. It was a great song; I liked it a lot. It had more of a “modern” feel to it than some of his other songs. When the song ended, Jerry said something about Rock AND-Roll being two words, repeating his funny pronunciation, adding “That's the only two kinds of music I know.”

Next was Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee. The only note I wrot! e about this song was just, “Buck – YOU DA MAN!” I really enjoyed the song, being more familiar with Stick McGhee's version. It was very up-tempo and fun. He stopped it really abruptly at the end. The crowd applauded and began yelling out song suggestions again. Jerry said, “Thank you. We still got plenty of time.” He went on to talk about the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, headed our way: “Hope that hurricane don't hit this gulf coast...” He said something else I didn't catch, then added, “The devil don't compromise!”

Someone requested Coming Back For More and Jerry obliged. Although I don't know the words to it, I could tell he was ad-libbing, singing, “And that's a guaranteed FACT, baby,” to the crowd's delight!

Next song was Rockin' My Life Away. This song was electric, very energetic, almost RABID! Everybody just went nuts! At the end, Jerry blew someone in the crowd a kiss. Then he seemed thoughtful, maybe reminiscing, and s! aid something about how he was going to sing another song written by the same guy, who never got to hear him play it. That song was That Kind of Fool. Another big change in tempo from the previous song, but still a great song.

After it ended, he said, “That's it. Let's do some rock and roll!” And then the band burst into Johnny B. Goode. Kenny and Buck really rocked on this one, and the crowd was in an absolute frenzy! People were dancing in the aisles. It was really something to experience.

Afterward, Jerry finally broke down and played the song the crowd kept asking for, Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave. Before the up-tempo section of the song, Jerry yelled in approval, “Buck! Yeah! Play the blues, son!” And when the song DID speed up in the middle, I swear Jerry's hands were hitting the keyboard so fast that even on the big screens on either side of the stage, you STILL couldn't see them! It was just a blur. The! man is amazing!

When the song ended, he sang, “I just don't want no headstone on my grave...” then added, “I'd appreciate a monument!” The crowd roared. Then he said something self-deprecating that began with, “I'd be lucky if I got (something mumbled).” Oh, but the folks in the audience disagreed!

With everybody in the house all excited, heck, almost tired out from the incredible set, Jerry began Whole Lotta Shakin', which I knew meant the beginning of the end of the night. But with the band totally rocking, how could you be sad? Wow. Jerry was totally BANGING on the keys. The crowd's excitement seemed to be contagious. He was doing a number one with his finger, during the “shake it one time for me” part. He was having fun, you could tell.

And of course next was the last song of the evening, Great Balls of Fire. The crowd was totally wild (which was funny to watch, as most attendees were either gray-headed or bald).&n! bsp; My kids, aged 8 and 4, who'd been grumbling throughout most of the show, finally got what they'd come for and they were just as nuts as their elders. It was really wild to experience the same mania in person that you saw in the crowds in tapes of his performances in the 50s. The man has still got it!

As the song ended, Jerry kicked back his piano bench, and he took his time leaving the stage, unlike at the Marksville show. He took several bows and blew kisses at the audience before finally leaving the stage. The band continued playing, as Kenny thanked everyone from the casino staff through the stage crew, which I thought was really nice. The concert was over at around 9:15.

Similar to the Marksville concert, most of the band packed up and left immediately, but Buck took his time and hung back a minute. I was just able to make it to the stage before he left, and another lady and I called his name and he ! stopped and came back to talk to us. After he had a few words with the other lady, I introduced myself and shook his hand and told him that I enjoyed the show. He asked if I'd gotten his message on the internet, and I said I had. (Buck had mailed to say he enjoyed my review of the Marksville concert.) He said he had to go but said to stay in touch. Buck is very gracious and appreciative of the fans...a really nice guy.

The concert was not sold out, and to me this is unbelievable. The cheap tickets were only $20, including the service fee. I've paid more than twice this for performers with less than half the talent! The weather may have contributed to the poor attendance, as I noticed some of the better seats remained empty also.

Just a final note: on the venue. The Grand Casino Gulfport is a single-level, all-floor seating auditorium that basically looks like a warehouse, though the sound is fairly! good (I found it much better than at the Paragon in Marksville). Seating wasn't very comfortable, in padded aluminum folding chairs. To their benefit, the casino did set up large video screens on either side of the stage, but I was very disappointed that we weren't able to see the stage directly very well because of the all-floor seating and our distance from the stage. Parking was adequate and free, and although we were on the third floor of the parking garage we were able to get out and onto the highway in just ten minutes or so. Although I wasn't happy with the seating, I would pay to hear JLL and his band play anywhere. I t was a wonderful show that just got better with each song. Love you, Jerry Lee!




Last update: August 17, 2007
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