The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday January 29th

Little Richard Keeps Audience, Pants Up

With his unique humor and signature yell, the outrageous and cartoon-like Little Richard brought down Memorial Hall on Thursday night with a bit of luck and a whole lot of showmanship.

Playing nearly 20 songs from his 50-plus years of performing, he overcame minor lighting, sound and clothing problems to keep the audience members clapping their hands, singing along and even joining the stage to boogie woogie down.

"I am the beautiful Little Richard," he said with a grin across his face as he took the stage and climbed to the top of his piano. "I'm getting old, but I'm still here looking good."

And with a yelp, he seated himself and quickly pounded the first few notes of his hit, "Good Golly Miss Molly."

Richard's music is pure rock and roll, filling the room with an energy almost as kinetic as the singer himself. With every song, backed by the adept Little Richard band, his piano becomes less an instrument and more of an extension of Richard's hyperactive nature.

Working the ivories with ease and making sure the audience was keeping up as Richard only does (using our generation's "raise the roof" sign and moving to the edge of the stage to coax the crowd to sing along), the night's most entertaining moments were his side-splitting conversations with the jubilant, shouting members of the audience.

Inserting a joking "shut up" here and "y'all having a good time" there, Richard unveiled humorous anecdotes, including the fact that his pants were falling down, which kept everyone laughing. Luckily, he was handed a belt, to riotous applause, a few songs later.

On some tunes, the admitted perfectionist Richard seemed intent on getting the sound and lighting the exact volume and color, but his chipper mood won every situation over.

With every song, the best of which was the classic "Tutti Frutti," Richard reminded everyone attending that he truly deserves the nickname of "architect of rock and roll."

As the rocking Richard gave way to the preacher within, the performer slowed everything down toward the end of the two-hour set to give each audience member a personal picture and a book.

Then, with a bit of a wink, Richard ended the night with the perfect bookend to "Golly," his rousing rendition of "Long Tall Sally," which kept everyone dancing as they left the show.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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