Lisa Marie Presley is a diminutive figure, an inherently shy person who has nonetheless decided to put herself in the position of being an artist – and one who has spent months on the road, standing in front of crowds in intimate rooms and putting her vulnerability on display.
While she clearly isn't naturally comfortable onstage – though with five musicians backing her on the cramped Eddie's Attic stage, she might have felt physically penned in as well – she nonetheless conversed quietly with the audience and tried to indulge the boorish types who constantly interrupted her with song requests and irrelevant comments.
Yes, it must be difficult being a Presley – do we really need to remind anyone of her parental heritage? – yet Lisa Marie knows there is no escaping her pedigree.
Fortunately, she has the chops to silence anyone who thinks she's cashing in on her famous name. Her fans, too – loud as they might have been – seemed to be genuine devotees of her music and not merely curiosity seekers.
One table at the first of her two extremely sold out shows on Sunday sang so brashly during "S.O.B." and "Sticks and Stones" that they drowned out the very voice they came to hear.
Presley's latest album –her third – is the contemplative "Storm & Grace," a moody, often melancholy but insightful collection produced by T Bone Burnett.
She and her crackerjack band – some of them donning top hats with feathers – presented more than a half dozen of the strummy, rootsy songs, with a comforting thump from an upright bass anchoring "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" (no, not the BTO cover) and a somber pedal steel guitar coloring "Soften the Blows."
She also looked back at her pleasantly catchy hit from a decade ago, "Lights Out" and delivered the fan favorite "I'll Figure It Out," from her second album released in 2005.
Presley, 45, who sometimes shook a bedazzled tambourine and ably thwacked a floor tom on a couple of songs, sounded husky and robust throughout the 75-minute show. Her voice rang through the room on "Idiot," a middle finger of a song directed at an ex (or two, or a few) and the cold open to the deeply felt country-tinged rocker "Sticks and Stones" marked her most impressive vocal moment of the set.
When Presley joked during the encore (no one left the stage – no point in such a small venue) that they've yet to perfect their cover of Tom Petty's "I Need to Know" but continue to play it because it's fun, a musical train wreck might have been expected.
But far from it. Their version of Petty's 1978 rocker was loose, crunchy and fun – and finally gave Presley a chance to smile.