Home Page

Charlie Patton painting © Copyright 2004 Loz Arkle
Painting © 2004 Loz Arkle

Website © Copyright 2000-2011 Alan White - All Rights Reserved

Site optimised for Microsoft Internet Explorer

Hero. Legend. Good Bloke.
John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



B. B. King
Bridgeport, CT - January 5, 2011
Review by Kirk Lang

© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.

B.B. 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.

Those 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.

B.B. 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.

B.B. 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 Time.”

© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.B.B. 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.

Before 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.

“I’m 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.”

B.B. 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

Before 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.

© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.The 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.

B.B. 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.

“Couple over there. Not in here,” he said. “The hotel’s across the street.”

While 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.

“Being 85 don’t bother me,” said B.B. “But when I take a piss, it bothers me.”

Thank 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.

© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.

Website © Copyright 2000-2011 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) © Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.
For further information please email:

Check out other US Concert and festival reviews here

Home Page