Thursday, 26 June 2008

Buddy Guy Review: Shepherd's Bush Empire, 24/6/08

At 70 years old, Buddy Guy remains an electrifying and extraordinary musician and performer, capable of terrifying audiences and guitar slingers therein with explosive, wild solos and licks, and a voice that can roar like a southern soul train in full steam, or can whisper falsetto that the great Reverend himself would be proud of. His shows can be both an incredible, or an unsatisfying, fragmented experience, but on Tuesday at 'ShBuE', the citizens of this great city so often starved of this music were treated to a performance from a master at the top of his game.

Guy's band were tight, well drilled, and schooled in Chicago Blues, able to whip up a storm, nail a back beat, or slide into a smooth soul groove at a seconds notice. The second song, Muddy Water's Hoochie Coochie Man started so quietly you could hear a pin drop, but exploded like a neutron bomb at each chorus. Guy, dressed in white slacks, non matching shoes and a classic showbiz shirt was beaming from ear to ear, and interacting with the crowd who were cheering every moment. A string of sublime Buddy Guy blues followed - but the piece de resistance was a cover of the O V Wright classic, "Drowning on Dry Land", during which Guy went into the crowd and nearly blew the 104 year old roof off the premises.

As is the case with the pleasurable, the sublime, the illicit or the incredible, the curfew fell at 10:30, but not until after Guy had closed the show with a little John Lee Hooker, a grateful appreciation for the UK for popularising the blues again in America following the 1960s - for which Guy "..woke up everyday, prayed and gave thanks.." , and an affecting and moving song "Skin Deep" from his new album, due out 22nd July. This evening was a revelatory and intense experience, and a demonstration of the deep joy and emotion of this precious music.

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