B.B. King played a show Friday night at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis and all of the reviews point to a very strange evening.
King, at 88, has been playing the blues since the 1940’s and has become beloved by not only blues audiences, but lovers of every genre. Up until now, his shows have stayed a blazing primer in both playing and singing the blues.
That’s why the Friday night performance is so troubling. We all want to think the King will be here, entertaining us forever but, if Friday is any indication, the end of the line as far as regular performances may be near.
Various reports have King opening the show with a rambling, twenty minute, introduction of his band followed by abbreviated versions of some of his classics. Word is that King occasionally shut down songs to talk to the crowd in rambling monologues and, at one point, led the crowd in a 15 minute sing-a-long of You Are My Sunshine. In total, he only played five songs.
From Brittany Tedder of KDHX:
After King introduced the band for 20 minutes, he finally played some classics like “Rock Me Baby,” “The Thrill is Gone” and “How Blue Can You Get.” He spent the majority of the performance drifting from the blues into the song “You Are My Sunshine.”
King stopped the band every few minutes so he could talk to the audience about love and lust. The audience was respectful, laughing at his jokes and clapping when appropriate, but after King went on and on, the audience showed frustration, shouting songs for King to play, like “Sweet Sixteen” and “Payin’ the Cost to Be the Boss.”
“You want me to play ‘Payin’ the Cost to Be the Boss’?” King asked and admitted, “I don’t remember how that goes.”
From Alan Scher Zagier of the StarTribune:
Concertgoers said King’s rambling Friday night set at the Peabody Opera House featured just a handful of complete songs amid meandering musical snippets, long-winded soliloquies, an 8-piece backup band that missed its cues and a 15-minute sing-along of “You Are My Sunshine.”
From Daniel Durcholz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
For a while, the audience was with him, laughing at his jokes and asides. But it was 45 minutes into the show before King performed anything resembling a song. Even then, his playing was shaky. He explained that he and the band had been off for two months, causing him to lose confidence.
After a capable run-through of “Rock Me Baby,” he played “You Are My Sunshine” and asked the crowd to sing along. The house lights came up and King began noticing individuals and waving to them. As the song went around again and again, nattering on for — and this is not a misprint — 15 minutes, audience members began to heckle, yelling out requests or simply calling for King to “play some music!” Some walked out.
Here’s hoping that this was just an off night and not a trend. The music world would not be the same without B.B. King.
BB King at St Louis April 4, 2014
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