February 18, 2006


A blues King reigns with class (JEFF JOHNSON, 2/18/06, Chicago Sun-Times)

There are about 80 reasons for someone attending a B.B. King concert these days to have only modest expectations. There's one reason to hope for something great, but it's a compelling one: A great showman rises to any occasion.

The new octogenarian summoned all his energy Thursday night at the House of Blues to deliver his best local show in recent memory. The years seemed to melt away through the course of his 100 minutes onstage.

The best-known of all living blues legends played his trusty guitar Lucille tenderly if somewhat sparingly. But with every solo, dazzling one-string run or vibrato, he showed why he's always up near the top of any credible "greatest guitarists" list. His vocals were equally powerful, displaying the range and power of a much younger man.

Maybe it was a brief respite from the road before beginning what has been erroneously billed as King's last world tour.

Perhaps it was the Grammy he received last week -- No. 14 overall -- for "80," a duets album.

It may have been the presence of his Chicago blues belter daughter Shirley King and other relatives.

And then he was making his first appearance at the House of Blues in the city he acknowledged as "the home of the blues."

Or maybe he was just thumbing his nose at critics on several recent tour stops who complained that King at 80 talks more than he plays.

We don't have enough blues, jazz, and soul legends left to quibble about an uneven performance level, do we?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 18, 2006 9:03 AM

Did someone ever find his dog? I had front row seats for BB (warmed up by Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows) over 20 years ago. It was a *great show.

Posted by: ted welter at February 18, 2006 12:33 PM

Growing up in Southern Illinois I often made it into St. Louis, Mo. for the weekend. Oh, the blues bands that made the circuit there. Some big time, and some not, but goodness gracious the sweet music from one end of that city to the other was just stunning. I wonder if it's still that way?

Posted by: Tom Wall at February 18, 2006 4:48 PM