Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis
If you're going to listen to Lisa Marie Presley, the first thing you need to realize is that while she might be the daughter of the king of rock 'n' roll, she is not the same person. Times are different, and it would be unfair and downright silly to hold her to the same standards of her father. She'll always be regarded as a sort of princess, but she's not going to change the face of the music industry; on the other hand, it's hard to say if there's room for any artist to do that again.
Presley took the stage at the Fine Line last night with some stiff awkwardness. It felt like she didn't trust the crowd -- she didn't know what they might yell at her between songs, what they might recklessly demand of her. Dressed in a dark blazer and an ankle-length sequined skirt, Presley was all covered up. Still, she was beautiful -- and with her heavy-lidded eyes, long nose, high cheekbones, and small, pouty mouth, it's as though her father was still in the room.
The crowd at the Fine Line loved Presley. Her recent Storm & Grace (produced by the legendary T-Bone Burnett) is her first album in seven years, and quite different from her first two releases; it is moody and edgy -- that Presley will always be, but there's a maturity to her songs now. Her audience was clearly filled with people who had been fans of hers from the beginning -- maybe initially for different reasons, but at the show, purely because they enjoyed her music. It was a cozy turnout -- by no means full -- which gave the evening some intimacy. As the evening wore on, Presley became noticeably more comfortable with the audience.
"Thank you so much for standing in this heat," she said between songs. Indeed, the Fine Line might have been five degrees cooler than the sweltering 80-plus it was outside.
"What about you? Take your jacket off!" yelled one vocal audience member in reply.
"Oh, I don't think so. It's all good as long as it's covered up," smiled Presley mysteriously. "You learn that as you get older."
As Presley progressed through her set (a remarkably short 45 minutes with just 10 songs), she introduced every song by title, and members of the audience were delighted and excited by what she was about to play. They sang along and thanked her for writing lyrics.
"That last one is the babies' favorite song, just so you know," said Presley of her twin girls after she finished "Forgiving." "They love singing along to the chorus."
When Presley reached the end of her set, she thanked the crowd sincerely -- as if she was almost surprised by how well things went, and it meant so much more to her that they did. She hadn't stepped off the stage for more than half a minute before she appeared back on for the encore: a stirring, gorgeous "Lights Out" and a highly energetic rendition of Tom Petty's "I Need To Know," the latter of which was a write-in addition to the set list.
In a recent interview with Gimme Noise, Presley alluded to going through rough patches in her life and collectively starting over, though her new album doesn't sound like a fresh start. Storm & Grace is a heavy jewel, with honest lyrics -- it's an album where Presley seems to be coming to terms with herself more than anything else. At last night's show, it seems Presley has finally gotten there -- even if she's still a little shy about it.
Critic's bias: Everybody's got an opinion on Lisa Marie Presley, whether they think they do or not.
The crowd: Skewed toward the late 30s and up, and definitely fans.
Overheard in the crowd: Lots of things. "Lisa Marie Presley, you fucking rock!" screamed someone after "Lights Out."