Sunday, February 26, 2012
Concert review: B.B. King at Billy Bob’s (February 25)
King really is the "king of blues."
Fort Worth’s famous honky tonk Billy Bob’s Texas wouldn't be an assumed venue for legendary blues guitarist B.B. King to perform, but the size and layout of the giant venue suited his show just fine. He is currently on a small U.S. tour and played a solo bill for an excited and large crowd in Fort Worth. With his legendary blazer and bowtie combo on, King proved he really is “king of blues.”
King started off by introducing each member of his 10+ person band, taking almost 30 minutes to get through side-stories or other facts about the musicians. He was certainly proud of his fellow artists, who backed him up on saxophone, trumpet, flute, and of course, electric guitar. “Everyday I Have the Blues” ushered in a wave of big hits, with King’s sharp and woeful vocals taking the lead. He toggled between wowing audiences with complex guitar solos and belting out sad stories. His facial expressions showed the mood from which the songs were born.
The first line of “The Thrill is Gone” shot a wave of excitement through the audience. King led the band at every turn, firing up his trademark Gibson guitar named Lucille for impromptu vibrato solos. The horns added joyful pizzazz to his moody string bends, taking the crowd back to his Southern roots in Mississippi. A simple wave of his hand slowed the bands’ pace, giving way to an exploratory guitar set or a funny comment from King. He seemed to go with whatever song he was feeling, whether it was next on the set list or not.
Towards the middle of the set, King apologized for his voice. But the slight rasp agreed with his soulful tunes, giving each song perhaps more emotion than he was already conveying. This slight handicap added texture and body to his cover of Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The famous cover closed his hour-long set, seemingly sending starry-eyed fans away with more soul than they came in with.
At 86, the king of blues is still jumping from town to town with a smile on his face.
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