Over the weekend I saw B.B. King in concert with the Mister (my husband) and my brother. I think, “The Thrill is Gone”, might possibly be the best way to describe the concert. I’m still unsure how I feel about the performance.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that an 88 year old man is still willing to travel across country and through Canada performing for his fans. However, in the 2 ½ hours that Mr. King was on stage, he attempted to sing four songs, and only competed one… after 20 minutes. The problem was, that during the concert, Mr. King would begin to sing the first several bars of a song, and someone would shout out, “We love you B.B.!” –and he would stop singing, and say, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” He would spend the next 5 minutes talking to the crowd and begin stories that he would never finish. He thanked the crowd, and the venue for hosting him again and again, and he asked that they invite him back “next time”.
At the end of the concert, the crew working on the lights turned them on throughout the entire building, but Mr. King just kept chatting with the crowd. After half the patrons filed out of the ballroom, Mr. King signed autographs, t-shirts, posters, etc. Unfortunately, there was one obnoxious concert goer who was insistent Mr. King sign something for him, however, the guy didn’t have a writing tool… and apparently, neither did B.B.
Soon three large intimidating men surrounded Mr. King (bodyguards?). The man closest to him whispered something in his ear. King told the crowd he was honored to have played at the Surf Ballroom, but it was time for him to go, because he had a 10+ hour bus ride ahead of him. People started cheering, “Play one more! Play one more!” B.B. King then leaned into the mic and said, “If you’re quiet, I’ll tell you a secret.” The crowd hushed, and he said, “I love you all very much!” The crowd responded with cheers and whistles.
At that point we left, because people began getting rude, some actually booed. He’s EIGHTY-EIGHT!! –It’s inappropriate and disrespectful to boo. Obviously being on stage for 2½ hours exhausted him, and furthermore he had to make to another venue for a concert the next night.
I am going to guess that Mr. King has some very good performances (or else, he probably wouldn’t be touring??), but I believe we caught him on a night that just wasn’t his best.
I believe my brother had the best outlook of the concert. First off, Mr. King performed at the famous Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, which was the last place Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played in February, 1959, before the three young men boarded a plane that crashed in a nearby field very soon after taking off. My brother was in awe of the fact that B.B. King had met Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James… not to mention performing with dozens of musical artists, including touring with the Rolling Stones.
I just completed reading several websites that gave reviews of B.B. Kings’ 2013 concert series. “Train wreck” was the first words describing his concert on one site. Ouch! The reviews were conflicting: either folks loved him, or were disappointed. In one review, a concert goer wanted their money back. Hmmm… What do you think?
“I never use that word, retire”. -B.B. King