I was in the presence of greatness last night. And greatness is ornery and crazy. I saw Little Richard perform live at a free concert near my office.
He talked a good deal more than he sang, but that was okay. Among the subjects about which he shared his wisdom: leg pains, an offer of speedy reimbursement for anyone who would destroy the camera of the guy who kept trying to film him, and that it's better for ladies to be big than small, because, "The dog buries bones, y'know." This comment punctuated an effort to have the "biggest, fattest black lady, the biggest, fattest white lady, and the biggest, fattest Mexi lady," to join him on stage and dance to "Old Time Rock n' Roll." He requested that they dance so much they "break the stage." Requests were punctuated with a lightning-fast "shut up!" to hecklers and would-be comedians.
Aw. I cannot wait until I am 75 years old and can say whatever I want, whenever I want. I want to be old and ornery and crazy.
As for the music, he's still got it. He put on a great show, opening with "Good Golly, Miss Molly." It was loud, intense, and almost terrifying. He even threw in a country song, just to keep us on our toes.
The opening act, The Jewels, was a whole lot of fun. The Jewels are a local girl group who have been performing together for more than 40 years. They even came out in girl group-style matching outfits (though, as a nod to their age, the outfits were tasteful jackets and slacks, rather than sparkly little minidresses). The Jewels shared a series of classics, and even got the audience to jump in on "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" These ladies were having the time of their lives.
I only wish the crowd had been as cool as the performers. A few folks were really into it, danced, sang along, and were there to have the best Thursday night they'd had in years. But they were outweighed by the people with no sense of show etiquette. Late arrivals muscled and elbowed their way to the front and blocked the views of others with self-entitled impunity. One clearly drunk man shouted that he was there to "see the little f----t play piano." Because using that word worked out great for Isaiah, y'know. Also, Little Richard isn't gay. He just likes his jackets extra sparkly. Also, he isn't little, he's 5'10". (Thank you, IMDB!)
Worst and weirdest of all was the older guy standing behind me. He was really very white, yet wearing a giant Afro wig (I've seen fauxhawks before, but never a faux-fro). Man, that guy did not stop talking for over two hours. And, really, when someone talks that much they rarely have anything to say.
Another guy shoved his way up next to me, and repeatedly held up his cell phone camera to take a photo of Little Richard. Once is fine, it's nice to have a photo of an event. But you do not need to wave your arm in my face a dozen times. I eventually got ornery and told him to back off and please stop blocking my view, and...he did. He vanished completely. It was awesome.
So, Little Richard, thank you. I'm not old just yet, but thanks for showing me how effective it is to be ornery. Also, for all you bitchy little would-be bad boys of rock'n'roll (looking at you, Pete Doherty and Ryan Adams), take a good hard look at Little Richard. You'll never be as bad as he is or half as stylish, so kindly stop trying.