During the course of your life you compile a bucket list to complete. The items on this list differ for each person, many of mine are music related. One of the few I never thought I would attain was to see Mr. B.B. King play before my own eyes. on Friday night this item was checked from my list.
The show began like any other, the crowd was guided through the entrance like so many cattle. Filtering one after the other to find their seats, as they plunked down and sipped at their soothing beverages. The group in attendance were mostly gray haired and conservative. No one was pounding back the drinks, it was a mostly calm, all except the rumble of eagerness rolling throughout the venue.
A representative for the Casino came out and started to introduce the show. In a strange twist, a celebrity guest was invited to the stage to complete the introduction. For some strange reason it was Steven Seagal. As if some sort of bad dream was playing out, he marched up to the front of the stage with his big fake grin and bad make up, and started to try to connect with the audience. He retold tales from his past, attributing his love for the blues to the very man about to take the stage. Standing there in his combat boots, with his hair plugs twinkling in the stage lights, it was all a little surreal. With a sigh of relief from the crowd, it was very short lived and he soon escaped to the darkness.
Mr. King’s backing band started to then populate the stage and take their positions. They subsequently opened the show and got the groove going, setting the tone for the night. The gathering of down to earth true musicians, with soul and life and a little magic. The whole theater started to get going, swaying and clapping in time. In no time we were enveloped in the music, taken back to a simpler time.
After a 20 minute start, the King took the stage. The eighty-five year old guitarist walked out to his chair and sat before the anticipatory horde. He grasped Lucille, his guitar, and strummed a tension breaking chord and a gentle hush washed over the crowd. And so the moment had arrived it was time to soak up every second of his presence.
Although not in his prime, he was still quite heartfelt and carried a certain weight with every word he spoke and every string he hit. The show was extremely short, maybe 45 minutes at most. Spotted with a mixture of stories and song, it still quenched the palettes of most in attendance. The years have taken alot of his ability away, he is no longer able to mesmerize a full house for a full set. His fingers seem not to want to cooperate, and the frustration could be see splashed across his face. Despite this, it was still amazing, every time he got swept up in the moment, he played a short mystical solo that would take you away.
The backing band is definitely there to carry Mr.King through a whole show. Whenever he couldn’t take a song for a little walk with Lucille, the band would jump in and contribute their own piece; a horn solo here, or a keyboard piece their. “B”, as he referred to himself, injected humor throughout the night, and pieces of moral guidance. One moment he would be talking about receiving a free order of Viagra, and the next he would be passing on his belief in treating woman with respect. It was all very endearing.
After the set was over, the onlookers rushed to the stage to try and get whatever may be tossed out or left to take home. The legend threw our hand fulls of personalized plastic pins. Which were gobbled up by the patrons, in a reenactment of some real life hungry hungry hippo game. He then tossed a few necklaces to the masses, which caused a few men to nearly end up in a fisticuffs. Final piece on the docket was signing of memorabilia. King went out of his way to make sure as many people as possible got their posters signed. But it was short lived, being eighty-five, he was worn out and it was time for him to retire.
Even though my eyes were glazed with stars, this is the events as they took place before me. I peppered the reenactment, with my feelings and conveyed the energy expressed by the crowds reaction. Looking over the night in hindsight, it should have been mildly disappointing, but it wasn’t. I was genuinely impressed with his abilities, they may not have been a hint of what they were even five short years ago but they were still impressive. In fact I think they have changed, he has adapted with his body and still able to back his show with true heart. This is what made it special and really what made it perfect. He didn’t come out and try to pretend he was still a young man, he came out and put on the best show he could, and for that the audience was grateful.