Concert review:

Lisa Marie Presley Rocks Sydney!!!

(by Nigel Patterson, 19 March 2004)

The day The King's daughter came to town. And guess what?.... Lisa Marie Presley can sing, LMP can rock.

What a great gig Lisa has! Chairman of EPE, celebrated part of rock & roll royalty and a gifted, throaty voiced singer-songwriter. The way Lisa's album, 'To Whom It May Concern', transferred to a live performance context was very impressive. Many of the album tracks assumed a stronger presence "live", and really connected!


As a measure of Lisa's considerable talent she was equally at home belting out hard edged contemporary rock numbers as she was perched on a stool delivering a poignant acoustic ballad. Lisa came across as a confident young woman with considerable charisma, a tell it like it is personality (the Denton interview was mentioned) and an artist willing to reveal herself to her audience through the potent imagery evoked by the autobiographical lyrics of her self-written songs.

Stand out songs included Lisa's only Australian single, the Top 40 hit, 'Lights Out', a contemporary rocker infused with a touch of the blues, and Lisa's powerful delivery on 'S.O.B.', the title of which refers to Lisa herself. The heartfelt ballad, 'Nobody Noticed It', was delivered with an emotional charge while To 'To Whom It May Concern' with its searing lyrics was powerfully evocative.

Lisa sang several new songs including her great encore performance of the Aretha Franklin recording, 'Baby I Love You' (apparently the first song Lisa attempted to record, at the age of 21) and 'I Will Figure It Out', a potent, pounding rocker. If the latter song is Lisa's new single (due out in the US in June), it is a great choice.

Elvis Factor #1: in the flesh it is striking how much Lisa resembles her father. Not only her facial looks but there is an eerie similarity in her movements: the swiveling hips, the curled lip, and the raised eyebrows. OK, it wasn't full on 'Elvis the Pelvis', but those seminal elements that distinguished her father at the beginning of his career were very apparent in his daughter.

The split-personality of the full house was significant. Watching the motionless faces of many of the older, rock & roll fans who grew up on the music of her father you could sense they were collectively thinking: "What is this all about, why am I here?"

It was a case of the more things change the more they remain the same. I had visions of 50 years ago when the parents of the day were thinking exactly the same thing as they watched their offspring celebrating a young, up and coming singer with shaky hips. For the younger demographic it was a case of being part of the contemporary music scene in the year 2004. They screamed, they yelled, they sang and they danced along with Ms. Presley. They knew the lyrics to all her songs and they also knew about her life as they periodically engaged in friendly banter with the star and waved placards celebrating their idol.

Lisa's backing group are excellent. Four guitarists (including acoustic), a frenetic drummer and a talented keyboardist. Early in her career there were criticisms that Lisa was too self-conscious. Well, a year is a long time in the live music business as a relaxed, confident singer joked and interacted with an appreciative audience.

The merchandise available on the night was two Lisa t-shirts and two Lisa baseball style caps. One older lady examined the 'LMFP' t-shirt quizzically and then asked the girls behind the counter "What does the 'F' stand for?" Those around her smiled. There is no doubt Lisa Presley has a sense of humor and real attitude.

Some patrons were disappointed that there was no concert program.

This was hardly surprising given Lisa's "no Elvis" policy.

At this stage of her career any program would be light on without some mention of her family history. Lisa Presley is wise to insist on her "no Elvis" policy. This will optimise her chances of achieving musical longevity, unlike the offspring of other famous musicians: eg. Julian and Sean Lennon and Ziggy Marley.

Unfortunately, without radio airplay and promotion down under, her future tours are likely to play to smaller audiences as the novelty factor motivating many of her father's fans to attend will have been satisfied in March 2003.

Elvis Factor #2: (at least in Perth) there was a meet & greet, but true to Lisa's policy of keeping her career separate from her fathers', it was by invitation only…no Elvis fans allowed.

David Campbell was a solid choice as Lisa's support act. Backed only by a guitarist and keyboardist, Campbell's fast paced repertoire was the perfect accompaniment to prime the audience for the headline artist. Campbell, like LMP, writes a lot of his own material and is not afraid to confront and reveal the angst and torment of his personal life and relationships. This was apparent on a great song about his family, tellingly titled 'Secrets and Lies'.

Like her familial predecessor on stage, Lisa's concert was relatively short, a shade over one hour. However, it was performed effortlessly with Lisa's powerful, husky vocals shining. As on her album the lyrics to most songs were drowned out by her backing, but this mirrors many other hard rock performances by major artists. I also seem to recall a similar criticism being leveled at that swivel hipped singer in the mid '50s when people couldn't understand the words to 'Heartbreak Hotel'.

In any case isn't it all about the beat, that pounding, integrated crescendo of guitar, drums and keyboard?

What would Elvis have thought of Lisa's music and performance? Elvis was known for his eclectic musical interests and I can't help but think that wherever he is today he is watching his daughter and smiling!

How far Lisa can ascend the pyramid shaped ladder of rock & roll success remains to be seen. However, on the basis of her first performance in Sydney, Lisa offered strong credentials to suggest there is a place for her alongside distinctive artists of the calibre of Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Tyler. Elvis sang 'My Way', Lisa showed she too can do it her way. LMP has a bright future with her own, individual brand of hard edged, ballsy rock.

Verdict: LMFP's first Sydney concert was a polished, professional concert experience. I for one hope she will be back….soon.

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