Chuck Berry Concert Review

Chuck Berry… Need I say more? The guy had just turned 80 on October 2006, and he still can rock and roll. The man is a legend. An icon! What more can I say? He may be from St. Louis, Missouri, but he has never ever come to Branson, Missouri until this year. February 16 & 17, 2007 were his first ever performances in Branson. It was a very awesome and extremely entertaining show. Not much to really say. The man is absolute genius. See his show, and the article basically writes itself.

Otis Day & The Knights was his opening act. Remember the movie “Animal House” with John Belushi? Will, there’s a band that plays in that movie. This was that band (although in the movie the band members were fictional people – Otis Day was the only real person). They came onto the stage at 8:00 and they did an hour show. They did all cover songs, but boy were they good And most of them were done to their style. They covered people from the stones, to the kinks (“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”, “You Really Got Me”) – and than would go straight into soul and do “Soul Man” that I know Sam & Dave and The Blues Brothers have made really popular and than would get funky with a cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again”. And than go on to do a couple of numbers from the “Animal House” soundtrack. “Shout” and “Shama Lama Ding Dong”. Talk about a mixture of styles of music. It was like watching a Blues Brothers concert, and it might as well be – Otis Day starred in “Animal House” with John Belushi, and John Belushi was one of the Blues Brothers, so there’s the connection.

20 minutes or so into their show, they had an American Flag come down onto the stage. Otis Day and the rest of the band, except for one of his guitarists, leaves the stage. His guitarist than starts playing an exact – note for note – copy of Jimi Hendrix’s cover of our National Anthem. Now, I’m not much for complete note for note covers, but that guitarist was good! He was more than good, he was great!

On an interesting side note, I have read somewhere that when Hendrix started playing his version of the national anthem, some folks, mainly from the older generation, were cursing him and saying he was putting down the national anthem when he played it that way. And saying it’s disrespectful. But I don’t care what they think. I think Hendrix did an awesome interpretation of the song. His rendition of our national anthem was the most unique and most creative interpretation I have ever heard, and I love it. Hendrix wasn’t being disrespectful when he played his version. He played the anthem much like why people sing it before sports events, but he did it with his own style. It didn’t mean he respected the song any less. And to this day, 40 years after he first recorded his rendition of the song, I still respect it and feel it’s the best rendition of the song.

Otis Day & The Knights finished their show around 9:10. At about 9:20, Chuck Berry took the stage wearing a Red shiny jacket and no teeth, and of course his famous Gibson ES-355 that you always see him with. He played songs from “School Days” “Sweet Little 16” to “You Never Can Tell”. He also did a blues number “It Hurts Me Too.” He had his son with him, Chuck Berry Jr. who is now 45 years old and has been playing with Chuck for 5 years now.

30 minutes into his show, he has his piano player playing a solo. Chuck Berry decides he would do a solo of his own, so he does this great solo. After playing all these great songs, and only doing his infamous “duck walk” at least twice, he tells the audience, “Now that we’re all tuned up, It’s time to start the show.” That was when he broke into his classic “Johnny B. Goode” – everyone in the audience stood up, and I swear he did the duck walk more than two times in that performance, he did it about 6 times! It was awesome, too bad I couldn’t video any of it. IMHO, that was the best performance out of all of them.

I was actually hoping he would do “My Ding-A-Ling”, his famous novelty song from the 1970s (and according to what I have read somewhere, his only #1 pop-chart hit). In fact, I was anxious for that song – but he didn’t play it. However, I did think it was cool at the end of the show he had people from the audience come onto the stage and dance when he did a little boogie jam. He even went offstage (stage-right) and played his guitar, where you couldn’t see him (ahh, the amazing powers of technology) during the last performance.

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