This is pretty self-indulgent, but I do it for fun. These are just the "big" shows, I'm not going to attempt to remember all the smaller shows I've been to.
2000-08-06 Yes 2007-05-08 Heaven and Hell, Megadeth, Machine Head 2007-10-16 Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Amos Lee 2007-10-22 The Australian Pink Floyd Show 2007-11-08 BB King 2008-02-14 Flogging Molly, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band 2008-02-22 Thrice, Say Anything 2008-06-08 BB King, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Lonnie Brooks, Little Willie Littlefield, Magic Slim and the Teardrops, Otis Taylor 2008-06-19 Joe Bonamassa 2008-07-22 Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band 2008-07-26 Eric Burdon & the Animals(w/Hilton Valentine), Jack Bruce, The Turtles, Melanie, Badfinger, Jonathan Edwards 2008-08-06 The Black Crowes, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals 2008-08-18 Joe Bonamassa 2008-08-20 Buddy Guy, George Thorogood 2008-08-22 Bob Dylan 2008-09-08 Richie Havens 2008-10-16 The Misfits 2008-11-04 Gov't Mule, Back Door Slam 2008-11-08 The Eagles 2008-11-21 Yes 2008-12-19 Over The Rhine 2008-12-20 Over The Rhine 2008-12-21 Over The Rhine 2009-01-02 Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2009-01-30 Bobby "Blue" Bland, Latimore, Clarence Carter, Floyd Taylor 2009-02-?? Willie "Big Eyes" Smith 2009-03-13 Dickey Betts and Great Southern 2009-04-16 Umphrey's McGee 2009-05-16 Kings Of Leon, The Walkmen 2009-06-08 Coldplay, Pete Yorn, Howling Bells 2009-06-13 Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan 2009-06-15 Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood 2009-06-29 The Fray, Jack's Mannequin, Richard Swift 2009-07-08 The Beach Boys 2009-07-10 Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson 2009-07-15 The Black Crowes, The Levon Helm Band 2009-08-04 Joan Baez 2009-08-07 Bitter Blood Street Theatre, Wheels, Goshorn Brothers, Balderdash 2009-09-11 Over The Rhine 2010-01-29 Gov't Mule with Peter Frampton 2010-03-12 John Mayer, Michael Franti & Spearhead 2010-04-21 Thrice, Manchester Orchestra and O'Brother 2010-05-20 Gladys Knight 2010-06-30 Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey 2010-07-02 Furthur 2010-07-04 Yes, Peter Frampton 2010-07-06 Santana, Steve Winwood 2010-07-15 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Drive-By Truckers 2010-07-27 John Mayer, Train 2010-10-22 Roger Waters 2010-11-14 Furthur 2010-11-22 Bob Dylan 2011-02-08 Over The Rhine 2011-03-13 Arlo Guthrie, The Burns Sisters 2011-04-26 Crosby & Nash 2011-05-03 Neil Young, Bert Jansch 2011-05-24 Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Maria Taylor 2011-07-31 Chris Robinson Brotherhood 2011-08-04 Paul McCartney 2011-08-05 Bob Dylan, Carolina Chocolate Drops 2011-11-22 Paul Simon, Punch Brothers 2012-02-18 Dark Star Orchestra 2012-03-13 Hot Tuna 2012-04-26 Tedeschi Trucks Band 2012-06-22 Phish 2012-08-08 Terrapin Flyer feat. Tom Constanten 2012-08-19 Chris Robinson Brotherhood 2012-08-25 Dennis DeYoung 2012-08-26 Bob Dylan (McCrary Sisters sit-in), Leon Russell 2012-09-29 Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys 2012-10-25 Terrapin Flyer feat. Tom Constanten 2012-11-18 Jorma Kaukonen & Steve Kimock
Upcoming: 2012-12-07 Tom Constanten & Bob Bralove 2012-12-11 Zappa Plays Zappa 2013-01-19 Terrapin Flyer feat. Melvin Seals & Mark Karan 2013-02-08 Dark Star Orchestra 2013-04-21 Chick Corea
First off, I saw Bob last October in Dayton. The venue sucked, the sound was bad, the crowd was bad and I'm sure that all factored into Bob's performance. It was a solid show with some good moments, but it was NOTHING like tonight.
Bob was absolutely on for the whole night. The set list was full of songs I had hoped to hear that appeared on this leg of the tour, but didn't expect to. Before I describe things, here's what he played (he was on keyboards all night): 1. Cat's In The Well 2. The Times They Are A-Changin' (w/Bob on harp) 3. Things Have Changed (w/Bob on harp) 4. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (w/Bob on harp) 5. Love Sick 6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again (w/Bob on harp) 7. High Water 8. Chimes Of Freedom (w/Bob on harp) 9. Rollin' and Tumblin' 10. I Believe In You (w/Bob on harp) 11. Honest With Me 12. Just Like A Woman (w/Bob playing one note on harp and then telling Denny to solo on guitar instead, haha) 13. Til' I Fell In Love With You 14. Nettie Moore 15. Thunder On The Mountain -- 16. Like A Rolling Stone 17. All Along the Watchtower
Cat's In The Well started the show off firing. Bob usually seems to try and warm his voice up during the first song, but tonight he just came out and ripped. He was playing his keys hard and moving around quite a bit. Then came The Times They Are A-Changin', the title track from my absolute favorite Dylan album. This was a great, ballady full band arrangement that worked really well. I was REALLY glad to hear that one, and thought that would be the big treat of the night.
The band then went into Things Have Changed. I saw this song last October, and it was decent but not really a standout. Tonight Bob's singing was excellent and it was a really cool version. The mix was really different from any time I've heard it, which actually was cool because the song has a totally different vibe with the guitars up front. After that, he went into a great version of I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. This song was kind of jammed out, with stanzas repeated numerous times and nearly everyone soloing. The crowd ate it up, and Bob's vocals were strong- he even threw in some nice vibrato and had no problems hitting notes. It seemed like he gained some confidence with this one that stuck around for the rest of the show. Love Sick came next. He played this one last October too, and didn't do the album version justice. Tonight, again, was different. Excellent singing, and the atmosphere of the song came through the sound system perfectly.
Then I clearly remember yelling so loud my voice cracked and I sounded pitiful. The reason: The band had just burst into Stuck Inside Of Mobile, one of my favorite songs Bob's ever done. The vocals were great, which surprised me. The melody was partly the same as the album, but some of his diction made it seem more like he was talking to us and telling the story. It worked great, and the crowd went nuts. High Water came next, with the banjo more in the background than usual. This made for a really rocking version that definitely surpassed the version from last October.
And then my heart almost stopped when I heard Bob sing "Far between sundown's finish, and midnight's broken toll". Chimes Of mothafuckin' Freedom! Another song that I'll never get enough of. When this showed up in a set list last week I thought "holy crap, I hope he plays that!" but didn't expect it. I figured it was just a little surprise, like when Maggie's Farm popped up a few months ago for just one show. This version was great, with Bob singing more and more melodious as the song pressed on, making for an epic ending. Beautiful arrangement of the song, with the 2 guitars intertwining for some great harmonies that fit the atmosphere perfectly.
Then they went into a blues classic, and the Modern Times song I wanted to hear the most: Rollin' and Tumblin'. It started off kind of weak, with Bob slurring the lines, and Denny playing some slide that was just alright. But by the third verse the band locked in. Bob was stomping his foot and giving the blues croon he wished he had when he was 19 and recording his first album. Denny's slide playing improved a lot as the song went on too, and his final solo was especially great. Muddy would have been proud.
Next up was I Believe In You, a song I don't know too well. It certainly won me over though. Bob's voice was as good as I've heard it in a long time, in the studio or live. He threw out some tasteful vibrato on this one too, and it was another beautiful ballad. He played Honest With Me next, which the crowd loved. Stu and Denny traded off licks and people just went nuts. This a great one for showing off the band and they definitely enjoyed playing it. Just Like A Woman changed the vibe up next. I didn't recognize it for a few lines, as it's been transformed quite a bit. On the chorus, Bob seemed to pause for a while and the band got quiet so they could hear the crowd sing "Juuust liiike a woman". Nice version and it probably got the most applause of the night.
Bob's vocals shone like the bright moon in the sky during 'Til I Fell In Love With You. Again, he surprised me by singing this one incredibly good. They then played Nettie Moore. Not much to say about it, it sounded pretty much just like the album- though I love cheering after the "I'm in a cowboy band..." line. Bob's been experimenting with where he places Thunder On The Mountain lately. Since the release of Modern Times it pretty much has stayed in the first encore spot, but it's been all over the place in the past couple weeks. It closed the main set tonight with a bang. The crowd loved it, and so did Bob. He changed the vocals up a bit in the end, and I thought it was better than the album version. This one gets played every night for a reason... it's got to be damn fun, it's epic as all hell and the crowd loves it.
Then we waited patiently for the encore. By this point I was in my little concert zone, just letting everything sink in. Like every show lately, Like A Rolling Stone got the first encore spot. This one was probably the low point for me, though it was cool to hear live for the first time. Bob seemed to just slide through the vocals, and it was a bit slower than the album. Kind of lifeless. It was just alright. I was a little let down when they started All Along the Watchtower. I had hoped for Blowin' In The Wind as a closer, as we got Watchtower last year. But soon that didn't matter... I realized I can't get tired of hearing Watchtower- it's just too good of a rocker. In the 3rd verse, Bob seemed to make up a new, really cool melody that kind of descended down the pentatonic scale and worked perfectly with the song.
I went to this show alone (my Bob Dylan fan friends are in short supply), and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me before the show. He told me he hadn't seen Bob before and I told him that it wouldn't be what he expected, but if he went in just looking for a good show he'd have a great time. I also told him that Bob is kind of hit or miss. After All Along the Watchtower, he and his girlfriend walked out of the aisle. He patted me on the back, and I said "I'll see you next time". That sentence about sums the show up for me.
Well, I guess the title should have been "George Thorogood/Buddy Guy Show Review", but I wasn't there for Thorogood. I was bummed that Buddy was opening, but I understand why now. For one, he played for an hour and a half, so it was a co-headlining tour really. Secondly, he definitely won over a crowd where half of the audience was unfamiliar with him. He just put a new album out, which blues fans undoubtedly know about. This is an excellent way to promote it and get his music out to other people.
Seeing Buddy is something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and I "saw" him at the Chicago Blues Festival, but he only introduced BB King and didn't play. Last night I finally got the full experience. I found myself covered in goosebumps about a minute into the show, when it sunk in that I was watching Buddy friggin' Guy- one of the most legendary and influential bluesmen ever. His set included 3 songs from his new (and very good) album, Skin Deep: Out In The Woods (which was just Buddy alone for the most part. Very very good.), the title track (which ended up in a great singalong with Buddy declaring in a soft, heartfelt voice that only a great bluesman can pull off: "I like it when you help me out like that...", and Best Damn Fool, which is a great, undoubtedly-Buddy blues song.
Buddy also played an amazing Hoochie Coochie Man (pulling off a convincing Muddy voice, and ripping the guitar up of course), and took us through a little electric blues history lesson. He started with some more Muddy, followed by John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom. He then progressed into some Cream, playing a great, radically transformed version of Strange Brew. He also made it a point to talk about how the "British Invasion" wasn't really an "Invasion"... "I was telling everyone, this ain't no invasion! The blues was BORN here!". There was also the mandatory Damn Right I've Got The Blues, where Buddy's guitar sounded EXACTLY like on the album. I thought the album's tone had been EQ'd quite a bit and messed with in the studio- I was wrong. I'm now currently trying to pull that tone off with my own setup...
The highlight was defitely his walk into the crowd, playing and singing a long jam. He went up through my aisle, and clear out of the venue followed by tons of fans. Eventually he came back and stood right the hell next to me!!! I just stood there in awe looking at him, and watching his 72 year old hands eat his guitar alive. He grabbed a kid next to me and had him strum his guitar as he soloed, and it actually sounded good! Some drunk lady with her boobs half out came up to him at that point wanting attention, but Buddy wasn't biting. She kept talking as he was talking to the kid, and eventually told her "yeah, yeah, I see your breasts hanging out, but I've got this guy here". Nobody's cooler than Buddy.
After returning to the stage and wrapping things up, he left the stage and we waited way too long for Thorogood's roadies to set up the stage with lights and scenery. I found it odd that they were introduced as "the world's best bar band", and yet were playing in a big pavilion with a pretty technological stage setup (lots of video feeds and such, tons of lights). Doesn't seem like a bar band to me. They came out strong with a cool 50s rock number (Rock Party? I don't know the name) and jumped into Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love... not mentioning Bo at all afterwards, which bummed me out. He ran through a pretty standard set of everything you'd think he'd play the same way you'd expect he would, saying everything you'd expect him to say. No pleasant "show stopping" moments- it was just Thorogood sounding the same as he always does. His playing, singing, presence, showmanship and band were all completely upstaged by Buddy... but I expected that.
I left a little bit early, venturing off back to the merch booth during Bad To The Bone. I hung out and watched a bit of that song and the one after it, and made my way out during that song about the dogs that everyone knows...
It was a great night. Like I said, seeing Buddy was almost a religious experience to me, much like my trip to Chicago for the Blues Fest. Watching masters like BB and Buddy is an experience that is unbeatable in my book. Buddy has aged excellent, and I think he, like BB has become an even better showman with time(though he didn't pull out many of his smooth old 60s dance moves like in his Chess days). I hope he comes back soon.
...I'm seeing Bob Dylan on Friday, so you can expect a review of that too.
Hippiefest may have been written off by some as a nostalgia tour. This was in part true: peace and love ran rampant through the crowd. The whole scene was excellent. Everyone was there to hear the music and to have a good time. The audience was incredibly supportive of the artists and the performers definitely noticed and took the performance to a new level. This must have been nostalgia, because I don't think I've ever seen such a good crowd- especially in Dayton. Hippiefest was a trip back to what the late 60s must have been like on a good night (minus the brown acid and mud- no complaints here), but certainly with a modern twist. The songs of protest weren't a trip back to the 60s, but more like a wake-up call that what's happening now is very much the same. It was a trip to the past with a look for the future. I loved it.
Flo and Eddie of the Turtles came out first and mentioned that they'd be the announcers for the show. I must say that they were absolutely hilarious and were perfect for the job. They had tons of hysterical banter and stories between sets, and they clearly had a great time (which was noticeable in every single artist, they all clearly enjoyed themselves and the performances showed). Flo and Eddie introduced Jonathan Edwards, whom I really was looking forward to seeing. He ran through a good, short set of favorites including the mandatory "Sunshine" and an extended "Shanty", as well as a slower acoustic arrangement of the Beatles' "She Loves You". His voice and harmonica playing were in top form. The show's first standing ovation came after Jonathan Edwards' set closer, an a cappella version of "This Island Earth". It was absolutely beautiful and full of hope for the future. The crowd loved it.
Next up was Joey Molland's Badfinger. Flo and Eddie began running through Joey's accomplishments when Joey came out laughing and kicked them off the stage with "okay, okay... that's enough now". Joey's voice was excellent and his guitar work was clean. Despite being "Joey Molland's Badfinger", he was quick to not hog the spotlight. He would point it out when he did a song that one of his deceased bandmates wrote and was certainly complimentary of their work. It was very much Joey Molland playing his band's old songs as a way to honor his friends and have a great time. The Hippiefest house band's guitarist Godfrey Townsend had his first shining moment doing George Harrison's slide work perfectly during the Badfinger set. It was another excellent performance, and Joey also got a few rightfully earned standing ovations.
There was a short break before Melanie's set, and then she came out with her son Beau- an excellent concert classical guitarist. Melanie pointed out that it was great to play and write with her son, and his playing put a new twist on old songs and kept them really fun. She ran through a great "Ruby Tuesday" after (at Beau's suggestion) singing Happy Birthday to Mick Jagger, as well as a fun, story filled "Brand New Key" and "Look What They Done To My Song, Ma". The highlight for me though, was her closing number "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)". I've heard some criticism of her voice on this tour, but she sounded excellent in Dayton.
After another break to change up the instruments on stage, Flo and Eddie began introducing themselves with the usual hilarity. Excellent. Then the Turtles came out with part of a backing band of their own, including a drummer (who also worked with Alice Cooper and Meat Loaf) they'd been with for 22 years and a bassist they had been playing with since 1978. They also used the excellent Hippiefest keyboard player and Godfrey Townsend's guitar playing. They ran through a fun set that was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. They continued the hilarity on stage during their, telling stories and jokes while playing flawless versions of old favorites. The crowd was on its feet for much of their set, and it was a great time.
After their set, it began getting dark outside (the show started at 6:30) and the psychedelic projection began showing up on the back of the stage. We listened as the roadies began sound checking Jack Bruce's bass. This set was going to be LOUD. Godfrey Townsend took the right side of the stage while Jack Bruce took the left. We were about 10 feet behind Godfrey. Jack came out and the band bursted into "Sunshine Of Your Love" and the Fraze Pavilion erupted. Jack sang confidently and strong, even hitting notes he didn't even try to hit during the Cream reunion in 2005. His bass fills were as good as ever, and he had no problems handing the spotlight over to Mr. Townsend. Godfrey nailed the Cream era Clapton tone much better than Slowhand himself does at this point and his playing was great. They played excellent tunes (each one got a standing ovation), like "Politician", "We're Going Wrong" (which showcased the Hippiefest drummer's abilities very well), a crowd participation favorite "I Feel Free" and the set closing "White Room" which I thought was better than any Cream version I'd heard. During the extended guitar solo, Jack came over to our side of the stage to trade licks with Godfrey. Perfection. Jack and the band had clearly had a great time, which made me happy as I had always pictured Jack as a very serious guy. Jack seemed to enjoy the show as much as the crowd.
We began to wonder what Eric Burdon and the Animals (featuring Hilton Valentine- original Animals guitarist) would have to do to beat Jack's masterful set. He came out with his large band, sang the high notes flawlessly and strutted around the stage through the set. Not bad for a 67 year old. He was definitely the same Burdon we all know from the old Animals records. His voice is still in top form. The set included great versions of "It's My Life", "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place", a perfect-for-the-occasion, crowd favorite "When I Was Young" and of course "House Of The Rising Sun". "House" featured great, blistering organ work, Hilton blasting the trademark guitar riff and Eric crooning the vocals as good as ever. He even changed a few lines up a bit, which was welcome and kept things fresh. As far as I know, there haven't been any encores on the Hippiefest tour so far, but in Dayton there was! Eric and the guys (and girl bassist) came back out for an excellent version of "Sky Pilot". This was a perfect song to close the show with. Even the venue officials were confused when the band came back out for the encore.
In conclusion, this was definitely a show worth seeing (and I almost didn't, but that's another story). I'll certainly be at the show next year and I'm sure most of the crowd from last night's show will be, too. Each act had a great time, and the crowd absolutely loved it. The scene was better there than at any other show I've been to and it had to have inspired the artists to go all-out. None of these artists sound "washed up". If anything, they've just gotten better at working the crowd and are having more fun now than in the "glory days". Everyone's voice and playing were in top form. I wasn't there in the late 60s, but I'm glad to say that I saw this show and I won't miss another Hippiefest. The whole experience of the Dayton Hippiefest must be close to how things were in those days.
Well, it's late July now, but it's 1 AM and I'm bored. Matt seems to have taken a liking to reviewing shows on here, and it sounds like a good idea to me. Anyway, June 8th started at 4AM when the drive from Norwood, Ohio to Chicago began. I almost felt like a dedicated muslim on a trip to Mecca with this blues pilgrimage. Chicago is the undisputed birth place of the electric blues that the pretty white kids stole in the 50s, watered down and made popular. We only went for the final day, which is kind of a bummer looking back on it. We missed tons of amazing acts from the first 3 days: Johnny Winter and James Cotton (though I did manage to catch Edgar Winter with Ringo Starr a couple weeks ago), Koko Taylor, Pinetop Perkins (the man's 95 and is probably the last link to the Mississippi Delta pre-war blues), Otis Taylor's Recapturing the Banjo set, Lonnie Brooks and his son Ronnie Baker Brooks, etc. However, I have no reason to complain because what my girlfriend and I did see was an amazing show.
We got to Chicago early (and didn't realize there was a time zone change also), ate some Subway and walked around for a bit. Finding a parking spot was certainly a difficult task, and we learned that public restrooms weren't very public in Chicago. The places that had them were required to be unlocked by a worker.
The show started around 11 with some gospel music. I'm no Christian by any stretch, but much of the blues was crafted in churches or on plantations and there is a strong link to that in modern gospel music which I've always liked. The Victory Travelers started the day. We watched them for a little while and after not being floored by the performance opted to check out what else was going on. We headed over to the Louisiana Bayou stage where Donald and Geraldine Gay were scheduled to play. They started a couple minutes later and immediately Donald's booming blues pipes had gotten the small-ish crowd into the show. He explained that Geraldine was in the hospital and having a rough time, but was at the show in spirit. Donald sat down on a drum throne with a cane and was a master at getting the crowd to participate. He mentioned after the 3rd song or so that they were a gospel group, but he also didn't try to push religion on anyone- when he talked about Geraldine he said that she was in their prayers, and hoped that she was in our prayers or thoughts. He was a cool guy, and they ripped through the classic "You Gotta Move" like nobody ever had. A couple songs after that, it began raining- and then pouring. We ended up back in a parking garage for a while but went back when things had, as we thought, calmed down.
When it began to pour again, we took refuge in the Best Buy tent full of blues CDs for sale. They then announced that the park was closing due to the weather, and we were kicked out of the booth shortly after in a rude and incredibly redundant manner by a worker. Back to the parking garage...
Finally the skies parted and the show went on. We walked around the place for a while as the show began to kick off again, albeit behind schedule. We ended up at the Gibson Guitar Crossroads, where Big James Montgomery and the Playboys were setting up. A big crowd had gathered and we stood with high hopes. The band didn't disappoint, starting off with Big James telling the crowd they'd be playing "so funky you can smell it!". He had an excellent band and they took a long solo section for each member in which James would introduce the person a million times and say the same thing over and over again ("play the blues, Mike, PLAY THE BLUES!") during their solos, which was a bit annoying. All in all though, they played exceptionally well and had an hour long set.
We then found a small stage where Otis Taylor was about to begin his regular set with his fantastic band. Taylor did some crazy experimenting live (acoustic guitar with lots of delay tweaking) and it was great. His lead guitarist played the blues on a sunburst Les Paul in a flamenco fingerstyle. Truly original and refreshing. They played for an hour too, and we were in the very front. It was a definite highlight of the day for me.
We then ate some food and headed over to the Petrillo Music Shell, the huge main stage. We got some pretty nice seats and sat down in the burning heat as Karen Carroll had begun her set with Charlie Love and Lurrie Bell. They were pretty solid, but it was very hot and the sun partially blocked out the stage, making it tough to be really "into it".
Magic Slim and the Teardrops came on next, and were another big highlight of the day. They started off in true Chicago fashion with the rhythm guitarist starting the show as bandleader before Magic Slim took the stage. They blasted through some mandatory John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and a couple of other standards before Magic Slim took the stage. The rhythm guitarist's leads and vocals were exceptional and certainly got the crowd focused on the show. When Magic Slim took the stage, the seats got completely filled and the crowd was into it. There was even a man who must have been 90 dancing in the aisles. Within 10 minutes he was in front of the stage and was getting applause from the fans for his moves. This show must have been like home for him. I imagine he's a Chicago native who witnessed the 50s blues boom in his hometown and was enjoying another big taste of it. Magic Slim played for an hour and left with the crowd rowdy and certainly feelin' the blues.
A boogie woogie piano legend took the stage next for a 35 minute set. Little Willie Littlefield is in his 70s and has lived in Europe for quite some time now. Seeing him in America is pretty rare, and it was a real treat. He as the first to record the blues standard "Kansas City" in the 40s and he wowed the audience with his great playing on that song and others (including the must have song of the festival- "Sweet Home Chicago"). The crowd were anxious for the headliner though, and soon his band took the stage...
I saw BB King in November with my girlfriend a couple days after a car accident. I felt sore when I got to that show, but I swear the blues healed me that night. I left feeling great. BB was incredible, and Music Hall in Cincinnati is an incredible venue. Great seats (front row of the balcony, right by the monitors) helped too- but it was mostly BB's stories and character, not to mention his still-incredible voice and of course Lucille, who sounded as good as ever. We decided after that we'd see him again whenever we had the chance. We looked on his website at her house one day and saw that he was playing a show in Chicago, which was tempting... then we scrolled down and saw that he was playing the Chicago Blues Festival a few days later and that settled it. We were road tripping it.
So here we were again! BB's band took the stage and played for what seemed like a while before BB came out (they only had an hour and 15 minutes, so I was kind of hoping they'd get on with it), and when he did the place exploded. He was introduced by Buddy Guy, the current president of Chicago blues- with Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters being gone. BB's family sat on the side of the stage, as well as Koko Taylor and Buddy. I had hoped Koko and Buddy would take the stage with BB for a grand finale, but it didn't happen. BB's character was in full effect again, and he further solidied my thinking that he is the best in the world at crowd interaction.
I was impressed by BB's set list, which was quite different from what I saw last November. We didn't get a favorite of mine, "How Blue Can You Get?" which was played in November, but we did get great rundowns of "Sweet Little Angel", "Don't Answer The Door", "3:00 Blues" and a couple more covers of Chicago blues tracks for the occasion. Of course some standards from the last show were there, like the show closers "The Thrill Is Gone" and "Guess Who" (in which BB salutes his fans with love that actually seems believable, unlike when anyone else tries to do so. BB truly has a great love for his fans and playing for them), as well as a funky "When Love Comes To Town" that's a definite crowd pleaser.
I still have trouble deciding which BB King show was better, the Music Hall '07 show or the Chicago Blues Fest show. Right now I'd say the Music Hall show for the fact that it lasted longer- but the whole day of the Blues Festival beats that show out for all the other acts we saw also. BB is 82 and still sounds and plays great, and if anything he has only improved in how he talks to the crowd. It's worth the admission price just to hear his stories about his youth, his age, Buddy Guy being "young" and how things have changed.
If you'll allow me to ramble on a little longer about one of my heroes, I'd like to retell one of his stories from the November show. One which I'll never forget. BB talked about growing up in the poverty-stricken (and talent-filled) Mississippi Delta when things were segregated. He said that he used to hang out with his friends and drink a little bit, claiming that with a few drinks in him he'd start feeling a bit courageous, a bit strong. He said that there were two water fountains that looked exactly the same, except that one was labeled "White" and one was labeled "Black". He said that he always wondered what was special about the "white water", so that day he got the guts to go up and try it. So he went up and took some big gulps of the "white water" and walked on home feeling pretty cool for what he had done. Later on, he told us he thought about the water. He said "man, I don't know what the fuss is about that white water- tastes the same as the black water to me!".
That about sums up my thoughts on equality in a way that I never could with my own words. Thanks, BB. I'll be seeing you again I'm sure.
After the festival, we proceeded to get lost in downtown Chicago (which was definitely alive, with musicians everywhere... pretty cool) and eventually we found our hotel, which was just outside of Chicago (about 45 minutes from the show Downtown to give you an idea of the size of Chicago). We fell asleep almost immediately... I had been up since a little after 2 AM. I only got about an hour of sleep the night before thanks to anticipation. We planned to see Chicago the next day, but just drove home in the morning knowing we'd get severely lost in the ever-confusing downtown Chicago. The drive home was pretty fun, and filled with finding good radio stations as we entered and passed big towns and listening to The Beatles' Abbey Road a few times through.
That about sums up the day I think. I'm sure you're dead from boredom at this point, so I'll stop here and call an ambulance for you. I'm sure that was written incredibly poorly... it's 2:30 AM and I don't feel like proofreading.