Friday Night: Chuck Berry At Nutty Jerry's
"Chuck Berry is food" - Keith Richards
There is no adequate way to describe the evolutionary gift that Chuck Berry signifies to the world at large. He created everything that we hold dear and true - all the sex, anger, struggle, revolution, happiness, and strength that he helped create on a grander scale by creating rock and roll and every other tributary of it with a handful of his hopped-up blues and rockabilly chords shaped the past 60 years of the world.
"It's as if the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame loaned the Chuck Berry exhibit to the venue tonight. They turned it on and it still works, somehow," one of our moustachioed brethren said to us as we sat outside Nutty Jerry's smoking a cigarette on Friday night. Our Chuck Berry countdown stood at a little less than a 30 minutes.
A black limo was circling the Winnie venue, and we still weren't sure if it was Berry himself enjoying the spoils of being a touring artist, or some local celebrity on a weekend splurge. There was a sense of reverence in the venue, at least among the younger set.
On the way to the show, we wondered aloud about how an 84-year old could stand up next to his legacy. Would the show be a wash of epic proportions, or a fiery testament to the sacraments that this prophet, along with Elvis Presley, divvied out to the masses? The things that would birth the Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page...
In the end it was depressing, humbling and life-affirming all at once, because no one, not even Berry the bitter octogenarian, could come close to replicating the sound he made in the '50s. One million artists and groups would follow him, but now not even the man himself could hold one of those songs up to the same quality as the day he recorded them.
When you watch Chuck Berry play, for better or worse, you are seeing Adam eat the apple, the beginning of the Mississippi River, the opening minutes of The Godfather, or the marriage between chocolate and peanut butter.
Hail, hail rock and roll
Deliver me from the days of old
Long live rock and roll
The beat of the drums, loud and bold
Rock, rock, rock and roll
The feelin' is there, body and soul.