Rockin' in Milwaukee (by Mike Cepress)
I had the extreme pleasure of attending Little Richards recent performance in Milwaukee, WI on October 7, 2000. Heres my account of one of the greatest rocknroll shows I have ever seen!
Richard played a 2 hour show (much longer than usual, from what I understand) featuring a wide range of songs...many Little Richard classics along with a mess of unusual covers that really made the set exciting. Wearing a half black, half red, sequined silk outfit with red high heeled velvet boots with sequined swirls, he made a grand entrance to music from the band with a body guard on each arm. The first words he uttered to the crowd were, "67 and still pretty!" This was a terrific introduction to that classic persona so many of us know and love. His band was 9 pieces, consisting of 2 drummers, 2 bass players, an organ/keyboard player (only to fill in for Richard while he wasn't at the white grand piano center stage), a guitarist, and a 3 piece brass section, the highlight of which was the sax player, who happened to be a Milwaukee native.
The event itself was a charity event for Project Equality, a group that supports minority and womans rights. There was table seating with a dinner that preceded the show...but as soon as Richard started, we had the chance to move up front to dance. The others who sat at our table were amazed at the fact that three young white kids all about 20 years old even knew who Little Richard was, much less consider themselves such big fans.
Richard's performance was outstanding! Every song he sang was a hard-hitting punch to the audience, and he didnt miss a single trademark scream all night long. For nearly all of the show, we were about 5 feet away from the man himself, and he didnt hesitate to pick people out of the front row and sing a whole verse directly to them (myself included) staring right at you the whole time. It was wild! Being so close, I can attest to the fact that he is indeed still the prettiest man in rock n roll! This provided for an incredibly intimate setting, and made you feel like you were really an important part of this rock n roll experience. Being up front and so close, Charlie, Matt and myself all had the opportunity to shake his hand, definately a highlight for us! Being a relatively small event (under 1000 people), Richard called people up on stage in the beginning of the performance to dance and meet him. Those who went up were mainly the people in charge of Project Equality. He also took a liking to a young lady who he called up on stage, name CoCo, to which he responded "Ooooh! I love hot chocolate!"
All in all the event was a gas, and he proved to everyone that he can still rock like he could nearly 40 years ago. If he is this great now, I can imagine what he was like in his prime. Photo opportunities were minimal, seeing as they were very insistent on the fact that he wanted NO pictures taken. In fact, one woman came up front to snap a photo, and he stopped right in the middle of the song to say something about it! I will close the letter with the set list from the show. I was not keeping an exact record of the songs he was playing, but between the friends I was with and myself, we feel that this is close to a complete list. Keep a rockin!