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.