I was in good company when paying my respects to BB King in London last night. Ronnie Wood, Slash, and Mick Hucknall were there to jam with the blues legend. So too was Allman Brothers slide-guitar ace Derek Trucks and his blues singer wife Susan Tedeschi.
A sold-out Royal Albert Hall was a suitably regal setting to welcome the 85-year-old King of the Blues – and, sadly, perhaps make the capital’s farewell to one of the music’s recognised greats. There can’t be too many touring years left in him.
King played too little, sung even less preferring to talk to his adoring audience.
Musically he was at his best responding to the contributions of his guests. In snatches the unmistakeable BB King sound filled the auditorium as with The Thrill Is Gone.
A rousing extended When The Saints Go Marchin’ In sent most fans home happy. It has to said the gig might not have been such a clear-cut success without the contribution of Derek Trucks.
The evening had, however, started disastrously. Avery Sunshine (singer and keyboards) who opened was ridiculously over-amplified. My tinnitus risked getting tinnitus and I was prepared to spend the whole of her set with my fingers in my ears.
My companion saved the day with a swift visit to the Ladies for some toilet paper with which to stuff the suffering GC earholes. Her complaint to a RAH staff member about the sound level may have been passed on to a sound engineer – it was difficult to tell.
On the downside too was the venue's inadequate provision of bars and toilets but the ticket collection machine worked well.
Altogether though the event rates among my top 10 live music experiences – the rest I’ll leave for another post.