This year has been an educational one, as I have expanded my music horizons beyond my already diverse and unpredictable tastes. So when my original Labor Day plans fell through, I found myself at the El Rey, alone, and unsure why I was there.
I am not familiar with Lisa Marie Presley’s music at all; but I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about legacies, getting out from under successful parents’ shadows, and rock ‘n’ roll royalty. So something drew me to this show…and I’m glad I went.
It’s rare I go out to a show where I know NO ONE there these days, and it was kind of nice to be an anonymous face in a crowd again. I was surrounded by people as foreign as aliens to me; not only did I not know any of them, but I doubt that we would even be in the same grocery store together. It was a varied crowd, but what I most picked up on were the guy next to me with a bouquet of roses, the lady translating every song into sign language to a particular audience in the far corner, the young guy who sang every word, and, of course, the fact that Priscilla and parents were sitting right behind me.
Before Lisa Marie took the stage, a guy came out and made the what’s becoming more frequent speech concerning enjoying the show, and don’t take pictures or record. And everyone seemed to obey- which, despite my love of pictures, I really admire in the concert setting these days. Then the curtain lifted, and a very well-dressed band was soon joined by the petite and charismatic daughter of The King.
I’ve been privy to seeing a lot of people act weird and lose it around rock stars. I’ve also seen this happen around the spawn of rock stars, sometimes manifested in creepy ways. And that was definitely the case tonight, and perhaps, on a miniscule level, I am one of those here. Yeah, I’m a huge Elvis fan, I’ve been to Graceland twice, had that creepy mocked up photo taken with a young Elvis, etc., etc. But I know where to draw the line. I’ve seen Jakob Dylan, Hank 3, Shooter Jennings, Dhani Harrison…all great performers in their own right. And that’s what brought me here: what does Lisa Marie bring to the table? Besides having married some…interesting people.
Her latest album Storm & Grace was produced by T-Bone Burnett, and the backing band definitely represented the Americana roots that were planted for this album. Guitarist, and Lisa Marie’s husband, Michael Lockwood, had the vibe of Tom Petty in the “Don’t Come Around Here No More” video. His top hat and glasses were complemented by beautiful guitar after beautiful guitar.
For the first few songs, I was shocked by how timid Lisa Marie appeared to be, seeming very nervous and fidgety as she sang. It was as if she was holding back. It was quite hot in there, and she kept dabbing her face with a towel, and later, spraying her throat with something. Nonetheless, the crowd danced and sang along to her light, bluesy numbers. She definitely was born with the undefinable ability to draw people in I can imagine her father to have had; people were constantly shouting “I love you!” and “you’re beautiful!”. And when the light caught her right, it was eerie to see her profile and those eyes…it probably had the same effect on me if I were to see Frances Bean Cobain in person. There’s probably a nicer way to say this, but..our dead parents live on within us, for ourselves, and for others.
Over the course of the set she seemed to loosen up, the pivotal moment coming when she, unrehearsed, spotted two kids in the crowd that she recognized from YouTube videos that they were posting on her Facebook page. She invited them up onstage to perform one of her songs. The younger brother played Lockwood’s guitar, and the older sister sang. It was a heartfelt moment, as they were both so surprised and nervous, but they pulled it out and nailed it! A huge reason I’m so into live music is the memories it creates, and I am sure that these kids will talk about that moment for the rest of their lives.
The show flowed much more nicely until the end, and I let myself get lost in the slide guitar I love so much but don’t get out and see enough. At that point, Lisa Marie became more than the daughter of The King looking scared up there shaking a glittery tambourine, but she became a songwriter with a story to tell, a woman scorned. That’s what I was there for.