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Red Lick Records



B. B. King
Manchester, UK - 25th June 2011
Review by Brendan Cronin

© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.

The thrill is not yet gone  

Down the road to Manchester on Saturday 25th June to see the greatest of them all, Riley B. King, aka B.B. King, cousin of Bukka White of ‘Shake ‘em on Down’ fame and the greatest living exponent of the electric blues guitar, the inventor of vibrato and with the sweetest sound in the whole world, the sound of Lucille!   

Sitting in the Apollo Manchester, the tension is rising.  Then on comes the band, an eight piece and man are they good!  A horn section, including BB’s nephew and a cracking guitarist exploring all the weird jazz voicings that he can find, plus a superb drummer and keyboard player.  B.B. has been playing with these boys for thirty years!  Then on comes the man himself.  Eighty-four years old from Indianola Mississippi, looking dapper in light coloured blazer.  He plugs in and THEN and THEN!  THE SOUND! Totally unexpected, totally brilliant.  Lucille speaks! 

How to describe BB’s lead guitar tone?  Well first of all it is about tone, pure tone. It’s loud, really loud, but loud in a nice way, a massive sound .  And it’s beautifully bright and creamy, a thick quite trebly tone, a little tremolo or delay, broad as the river, deep as the sea, good enough to eat.  A touch of distortion when he scratched across a few strings but only a touch.  I’ll never forget that tone; it will be something I’ll aim for for the rest of my life in my own meagre playing.  Apparently BB has always been a tone man.  He loved Peter Green’s guitar playing for the tone he got.  And this is not to mention his technique.  Especially in the slower blues the lightness of touch and the lyrical quality and trilling were deft.  The trilling was developed to try to imitate his cousin Bukka’s slide technique and also B.B. has said, to imitate the sound of the country pedal steel guitar.  Some notes were missed.  He is eighty-four!!  But BB wasn’t worried, he just had a laugh about it, holding up Lucille and blaming her.  

The voice is still there, spot-on, so rich and soulful, straight from the Delta.  His way with the audience was impressive too.  You can hear it on the CD ‘Live at the Regal’.  Straight away the audience is brought onside, with witty repartee and a sending up of the other band members.  And he brings the women onside too.  Young women as well.  There were constant shouts of “You can take me home tonight BB.”  Still sexy at eighty-four!  BB only played for an hour but that was enough, the privilege of a lifetime! 

Brendan Cronin 30th August 2011
© Copyright 2011 Brendan Cronin. All Rights Reserved.

"The Thrill Is Gone"
The song, written in 1951 by Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins, was originally recorded by B.B. King in June 1969 for his album Completely Well, released the same year, with the single being released in December 1969.

More details on Wikipedia

© Copyright 2011 Kirk Lang. All Rights Reserved.

Website © Copyright 2000-2011 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page) © Copyright 2011
Brendan Cronin. All Rights Reserved.
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