When you hear than B.B. King is 83 years old, battling diabetes and sits during all of his performances, it’s easy to assume that you’ll find a frail old man on his “unofficial” farewell tour. You couldn’t be more wrong.
The king of blues already had his farewell tour in 2006. And “Never say never,” says the man who three years later, still tours around the world, putting on more than 250 shows each year. Even though he turns 84 in less than two weeks, King is as frisky and fresh (on the guitar and off) as he was 40 years ago.
“Don’t be surprised if you see me shaking my boogie a little bit,” he told fans at Wednesday night’s sold-out show at the intimate Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre in Mabelton. All night long, you expected him to do just that as he jammed in his seat.
After 60 years, the blues legend has perfected charming the crowd with song, funny tales (including one about Dr. Viagra) and quips that make him even laugh:
On Michael Phelps: “A guy who swim as fast as he can ought to be able to smoke whatever he wants whenever he wants.”
On women: “I ain’t ever seen a ugly woman.” And “The older we get the prettier they get.”
On parenting: “Children are your children till you get to a certain age; then they become your parents.”
On remarrying: “She can be from 21 to 82.”
But, of course, King charms best when he has a little help from his beloved Lucille. In “Everyday I have the Blues,” one moment he’s using the black Gibson guitar to delicately tease, then strumming hard and quick the next. In John Lee Hooker’s “I’ve Got the Key (Key to the Highway), he passionately wails “Just give me one, one last kiss, baby.”
But one of the night’s favorite was a tune from his 2008 covers album “One Kind Favor.” It was fun to watch King groove to his remake of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean,” a song he says his kids aren’t particularly fond of.
Did you go to the show? What was your favorite? “All Over Again,” (I’ve got a good mind to give up living and go shopping instead”)? Or maybe “Baby I love You.” Or the obvious closer “The Thrill is Gone”?
Also, did you catch the local 18-year-old who opened for King? The talented Stephen Norwood blew the audience away with his soulful voice and take on Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Donna Hathaway “A Song for Your” and Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come.”
See photos from last night show here.