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Young and old masters display generational mastery

Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang
Celebrity Theatre
Phoenix, AZ
August 17, 2018
Jonny Lang
Jonny Lang
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy

Review and photos by Frances Sealy

Hands down, this was one of the most anticipated concerts of the summer season was the Buddy Guy/Jonny Lang show. Both of the blues superstars perform in Arizona yearly, but the excitement never wanes. Both of these blues legends gave Phoenix jaw-dropping sets filled with incredible guitar work that would please the most finicky blues connoisseur on the planet.

Lang is in his late thirties now and he has been playing the blues for over twenty years. His first album was the platinum certified Lie To Me made at the tender age of 15 years old. His career has had a few twists and turns, but his ability to enchant and work an audience has never changed.

He is a rocker who works hard as he entertains the loving crowd. "Red Light" was a song that started quietly that built a rocking intensity. Lang is a mesmerizing performer with his guitar shredding and his "guitar faces' match those great guitar licks. Incredibly, Lang plays much of the time with his eyes closed. Those in the crowd who never had experienced Lang in concert were instant fans. There is little wonder that Buddy Guy has toured with Lang for several years. Lang has picked some of the best musicians in the business to tour with him. Zane Carney on guitar had several solo moments to show the crowd his guitar prowess. "Rack Em Up" started as a jazzy number as Jim Anton dominated the stage with his bass. The rest of the band joined in and it was magic. Tyrone Sass played righteous keyboards as Carney joined in with his guitar Barry Alexander's drums rounded out the band.

Buddy Guy is 82 years young and he was proud to reveal this to his fans. One fan remarked, "I didn't expect him to move around as much as he did." If you are expecting the guitar slinger to just stand at the microphone, don't come to Guy's show. He was not able to move around in the crowd like he typically does due to the theatre's layout. Still, he did not leave any area of the rotating stage uncovered.

Guy is touted to have influenced some of the great guitar players of rock that includes Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page Keith Richards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix. His guitar playing has a lot of punch. Within the first song, one of his guitar strings had broken. No problem, he decided to use the string to pluck the other strings. He proved he could use almost anything to pick his guitar from using a towel to a drumstick, and later his teeth or his tongue. His sound was always amazing.

Guy has picked the perfect backing musicians for his tour. It was apparent that the set list was very fluid and could change at any time. The legend has a full catalogue of songs from which he can pull at a moment's notice. Marty Sammon on keyboards, Ric Jaz on rhythm guitar, and Tom Hambridge on drums were able to go with the flow.

Wearing his signature polka dot shirt and a baseball cap, Guy ruled the stage. It was his interactions with the crowd throughout the night that was so engaging. During "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man," Guy stopped the song because he was not pleased with the crowd's inability to sing along with the lyrics. He quipped, "I just toured in Japan, and they knew the lyrics and sang along much better than this." A few four-letter words were removed from the dialog.

Guy's sense of humor permeated the venue as much as his guitar playing. Guy mentioned during the show, "I play music so funky you can smell it." Many of Guy's songs have adult themes and he mentioned that he used to worry about singing them. Once Hip-hop and rap music became popular, he never had to worry about that anymore. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer doesn't have to worry about any of that anymore.

Related articles:

Buddy Guy (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2015) - Festival review - New Orleans, LA May 2015
Peter Frampton, Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Robert Randolph (Peter Frampton's Guitar Circus) - Concert review - Tucson, AZ August 2014
Buddy Guy (Orlando Calling) - Concert review - Orlando, FL November 2011
Buddy Guy (Summerfest 2009) - Photo Gallery - Milwaukee, WI July 2009
Buddy Guy (Taste of Chicago 2009) - Photo Gallery - Chicago, IL July 2009
Buddy Guy - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI March 2004
Buddy Guy - (Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007) Festival review - Bridgeview, IL July 2007
Buddy Guy (The 5th Annual Madison Bluesfest) - Festival review - Madison, WI August 2002
Buddy Guy - Confessions of a Street Photographer - Chicago, IL January 2002
Buddy Guy - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI January 1999
Buddy Guy - Album review - Heavy Love
Jonny Lang / Runaway Saints - Concert review - Tucson, AZ - October 2015
Jonny Lang / Tom Walbank - Concert review - Tucson, AZ - January 2014
Jonny Lang - Concert review - Madsion, WI - November 2003
Aerosmith / Jonny Lang - Concert review - East Troy, WI - August 1997

Set Lists:
Buddy Guy Set list:

1. Damn Right I've Got the Blues (Buddy Guy cover)
2. I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man (Willie Dixon cover)
3. She's Nineteen Years Old
4. Love Her With a Feeling
5. I Just Want To Make Love You
6. Five Long Years (Eddie Boyd cover)
7. Cognac
8. Sweet Sixteen (B.B. King cover)
9. Strange Brew (Cream cover)
10. The Things I Used To Do (Pop Staples, Albert King, Steve Cropper cover)
11. Grits Ain't Groceries
12. Skin Deep
13. Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix cover)
14. Drowning On Dry Land
15. Ain't That Peculiar
Jonny Lang set list:

1. Don't Stop (For Anything)
2. Signs
3. A Quitter Never Wins (Tinsley Ellis cover)
4. We Are the Same
5. Snakes
6. Red Light - Everything Is Going to Be Alright
7. Living for the City (Stevie Wonder cover)

8. Bring Me Back Home
9. Lie To Me

Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Jonny Langy
Jonny Lang
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Jonny Lang
Jonny Lang
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Jonny Lang
Jonny Lang

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