By Lorraine Kay
The House of Blues in Anaheim rocked last March 20, to the music of the princess and heir apparent of rock and roll, Lisa Marie Presley. Living her entire life under the watchful eye of the entire world, Presley continued to just let it all hang out as she belted out song after song – telling her life through painfully dark lyrics and throbbing “in-your-face” rock and roll.
Carving her own way through to the hearts of music fans, Presley seems to have found her own niche in the world of rock and roll music. Unlike other children of great vocalists, she has created her own sound, avoiding a place for critics to hook into and attempt to compare her talent to that of her legendary father.
Outside of the famous brooding good looks, there is very little resemblance in Lisa Marie’s performance to Elvis’. Intensely personal, her lyrics betray the pain in her life, while making no excuses for anything – it’s just all matter of fact.
Much of the evening Lisa Marie devoted to the debut of new material from her upcoming new CD release entitled “Now What” on the Capitol Record label, which hit the streets April 5. A few flashes back to her debut album “To Whom It May Concern” – released in 2003 – brought cheers from the audience.
Supported all around by an excellent group of musicians, Lisa Marie seemed to deliver each song with confidence, like a trapeze artist with an awesome net. The six-piece band was held together by music director and guitarist Michael Lockwood, who also wrote some of the new songs with Lisa Marie. Joining Lockwood and Lisa Marie were her ex-husband Danny Keogh on bass, Paul Gordon also on guitar, keyboards and back-up vocals, Linda Good on keyboards and back-up vocals, Nick Lashley on guitar and Drew Hester on Drums.
A couple surprises of the evening were two cover tunes that will also be on the new CD. The first needs no explanation as to its significance and place on the CD – “Dirty Laundry” by the Don Henley. Lisa Marie’s blistering rendition of the song was a major high point of the evening. Her conviction and commitment to the lyrics was all too evident and gave the performance that much more energy and sting.
“Dirty Laundry” was the first single release of the new CD. The song’s sardonic indictment of the broadcast news industry certainly comes from the heart as she sings it. For Lisa Marie it may be even more relevant than it was when Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar wrote it some 23 years ago. The recording was released April 5, but ABC used Presley’s version of “Dirty Laundry” in promos for its hit show “Desperate Housewives.”
Her cover of the Ramone’s “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” was a moving performance and tribute to a friend. She introduced the song with an explanation of how Johnny Ramone asked her to record the song and that he also offered to play guitar on the recording. Unfortunately, he actually died the very same day the song was scheduled to be recorded. Instead she recorded it three days later with Steve Jones on guitar, another good friend of Ramone’s.
The House of Blues was filled with fans of all ages. From the young girls, who see her as a role model to mothers and grandmothers – all fans of Elvis – who seemed to want to rush up and just mother her. Middle-aged women were everywhere sporting Elvis t-shirts and other Elvis memorabilia. But if the spirit of Elvis was not there itself in all its ectoplasmic glory his fans made sure he had a presence there nonetheless.
The rest of Lisa Marie’s family made up for the absent Elvis in numbers. Everyone from her grandparents, mother and children and many friends rallied to support her in the balconies as she debuted the new material. At one point Lisa Marie spoke to her mother, Pricilla, sitting in the front row of the balcony -noting the frown on her face – to reassure her that it was all right. ”Smile Mom, it’s not that bad,” she said, ”don’t be so serious.”
Using the House of Blues with its intimate setting, she said, as a kind of test ground for the new recording, she worked through each song talking to the audience with a brief story about its reason for existence and what it meant to her as she wrote it. Presley penned the lyrics for 10 of the album’s 12 songs, working with Linda Perry, Eric Rosse (who produced Now What as well as her debut album), Gus Penaloza and her partner, Michael Lockwood (who also executive produced the album with Presley) on the music.