red lights


Blues giant shares his soul

BB King
House of Blues
Chicago, IL
Feb. 16, 2006
BB King BB King

Story and photos by Matt Schwenke

With a truly amazing musical career still in the works, B.B. King, now 80 years old, took to the stage at the House of Blues on the first of two sold-out nights. He regally bowed to the crowd before putting on a performance that culled from the dusty roots of the Delta as well as the well worn corners of his soul.

While it clearly isn't easy for King to perform (he listed off a bad back, bad knees, diabetes, and cataracts as his ailments), the king of blues pushes on, and the quality of his playing and singing have not diminished one bit. Though sitting and taking more breaks by way of storytelling interludes, B.B. King sang with youthful energy and charged the air with "Lucille" while his band followed closely and kept the platform steady. King's trademark tone and tremolo rang clear in "Darling You Know I Love You," and "Rock Me Baby," while his storytelling moments spoke to a tradition of showmanship between playing "Ain't That Just Like A Woman" for the men and "You Are My Sunshine" for the women.

Animated throughout the night, B.B. and company were especially playful on "All Over Again," adding the tag of Chopin's "Funeral March," and later with "Nobody Loves Me But My Mother" which turned into a medley that included sections of "Downhearted." An impassioned version of "Key to the Highway" followed, and nearing midnight, King still had enough energy to end the set strong with upbeat numbers like "The Thrill Is Gone." Pleasing a crowd of young and old alike, the thrill of seeing B.B. King perform continues, and his legend only grows.

BB King BB King

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