King, one of this country’s true musical icons, attracted a crowd of
approximately 1,100 to The Klein Memorial Auditorium on Jan. 5. 2011.
who made a point to see the “King of the Blues” got it right, as the
85-year-old, who not too long ago used to perform 300-plus nights a
year, has a far less busy schedule nowadays. You’ve got to see living
history while you can.
may be in the twilight of his career, but he showed in Bridgeport - the
second stop on his North American tour - that he still has a powerful
voice as well as the ability to make “Lucille,” his beloved Gibson
guitar, sing as good as she always has.
will be the first to admit there are guys who are far more technically
proficient on the guitar than he is - he’s often stated in interviews he
can’t play chords - but when it comes to soloing, B.B. can wring more
emotion out of one note than most people can with 100. His lead guitar
work - fluid single-note soloing, string bends and trademark vibrato
technique - has been influential to countless blues and rock greats,
from Buddy Guy to Eric Clapton. In fact, King, who signed his first
record contract a half decade or so before anyone heard of Chuck Berry,
Little Richard or Elvis Presley, was recently ranked #3 on
Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All
no longer stands up when he plays but he’s earned that right after
sixty-plus years in the business, after playing 90 countries, after
becoming the most famous blues performer in history. If he needs a
chair, so be it. Backed by the B.B. King Blues Band, an eight-piece
ensemble that includes a four-man horn section, B.B. hit the stage
after two instrumentals.
he opened with “I Need You” and followed with “Every Day I Have The
Blues,” he told audience members he hoped the new year was going better
for them than it was for him.
still broke,” B.B. said. Pointing to his band, he added, “These young
guys are funny. They don’t like to loan money to older people.”
would crack on individual band members throughout the night, as well as
tell a number of stories. It seems Riley B. King likes to chat in
concert more than in years past. It would have been nice to hear him
play one or two more of his classics than, for instance, hear him talk
about how his two main doctors are Dr. Viagra and Dr. Cialis, but this
is B.B. King we’re talking about. If he wants to talk about Viagra,
we’ll put up with it, as long as we get to see the man sing and play
“The Thrill is Gone” at the end of the night.
"The Thrill Is Gone"
The song, written in 1951 by Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins, was
originally recorded by B.B. King in June 1969 for his album
Completely Well, released the same year, with the single
being released in December 1969.
More details on Wikipedia
he closed with that 1969 tune - the most successful song of his career -
he performed, among others, “When Love Comes To Town,” a song he did
with U2 in the late 1980s; “I’ve Got a Mind to Give Up Living;” “Paying
the Cost to Be the Boss;” and “Rock Me Baby.” When it came to “Rock Me
Baby,” B.B. swayed his body and bent his back as much as a man his size
possibly can while seated in his chair.
fifteen-time Grammy Award winner oftentimes let his band do much of the
work on songs but whenever B.B. decided to make “Lucille” sing, he had
the audience mesmerized. While it was mostly a blues night, B.B. changed
things up a bit at one point with the country tune “You Are My
Sunshine.” B.B. said this song was for the ladies, to sort of make up
for when rappers, and even some fellow blues musicians, say things about
women that he doesn’t like.
instructed the women in the audience to grab their man and give him a
kiss. Lights were put on the crowd and as B.B. looked into the sea of
bodies, he implied that one couple was taking it farther than smooching.
over there. Not in here,” he said. “The hotel’s across the street.”
many of B.B.’s faithful have seen him perform many of the same songs in
concert for years, for decades, he excitedly said, “Ladies and
gentlemen, this is a new one, I said this is a new one,” before going
into “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” one of the tracks off of One
Kind Favor, his 2008 Grammy-winning CD. Unfortunately, blues artists
don’t get radio airplay in 2011 like the younger musicians in the pop,
rock and rap realms, something B.B. acknowledged when reflecting on the
commercial success of “The Thrill is Gone,” his only record, he said, to
sell a million copies. “But if I was the Jonas Brothers...” The “King of
the Blues” added that handsome young boys and beautiful young ladies get
all of the opportunity to be heard.
85 don’t bother me,” said B.B. “But when I take a piss, it bothers me.”
God guitar playing doesn’t bother him yet. We need him. The world is a
better place with B.B. still doing his thing.
© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.
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