Lisa Marie Presley might be a diminutive figure, but she sure knows how to work a stage.
During her performance Friday night at 3rd and Lindsley as a part of Nashville’s Americana Music Festival, Presley didn’t need bombastic theatrics. Her sultry presence and mesmerizing voice demand attention, which she received from the passionate audience filling the intimate space.
Walking out amid heavy distortion from guitarist and musical director Michael Lockwood, Presley donned tight black leather pants and a dark fitted double-breasted jacket. Immediately, her unmistakable voice curled out on to the crowd like wisps of smoke as she launched into “So Long” from her 2012 album Storm and Grace.
Noting how honored she was to appear at the Americana Festival, Presley then drew cheers with her latest single “Over Me,” a rambling dose of parlor piano and Lockwood’s twangy accents from a striking Gretsch Red Penguin.
Presley slowed down the proceedings by pulling out “Weary,” another Storm and Grace number that had several fans clutching their chests and swaying back and forth.
The singer/songwriter threw a curveball by changing the single “Idiot” off the 2005 album Now What into a swampy, growling takedown of a previous relationship. Sitting on a stool next to a resonator-toting Lockwood, Presley noted that it was probably the meanest song she’s ever written, and she is probably right.
“You’re an idiot, and I hate your guts,” was one of the nicer lines, let’s just say. Members of the audience could clearly relate because it earned big applause.
As the evening wound down, Presley kicked up the energy with “Un-Break,” turning to unleash a tribal beat on a pair of glittering drums while Lockwood tore at his custom-painted Chet Atkins guitar. “That was pure silliness,” Presley laughed when the percussive thump came to a stop.
“Sticks and Stones” was Presley’s finale, and she began it in style with an a capella intro before the band joined in.
With Presley again slamming the drums and Luis Maldonado’s bass reaching new fuzzy heights, the 45-minute show was a perfect storm – gentle at times, but always darkly looming before surging over the crowd.