The blues can convey more emotion in one perfectly placed note from the guitar than most songs can ever express. At 87 years old, B.B. King still plays over 100 shows a year as he continues to try to revitalize an often forgotten style of the blues that no one else has come close to matching in all his years of playing. Last night at the Akron Civic Theatre, the King of the Blues held onto his title.
The stars and moving clouds of the Akron Civic Theater’s ceiling shined down brightly on the B.B. King Jazz Band as they opened the show with soaring solos on every instrument and did it with such modest humor and quality. The sold out crowd really went nuts when the words “welcome Mr. B.B. King” rang through the hall as King stepped onto the stage with his fully suited entourage and began throwing confetti and at people in the front row.
From that point on, it became clear that King is not an artist of pop singles or great flare; for him it’s all about the style. The group as a whole took the audience back to a time of jazz nightclubs and each note from King’s guitar “Lucille” told the story of a breaking heat or the deep passionate love from a woman. King is just four years older than The Civic and there is no other venue in Northeast Ohio that would fit his old time blues style so well.
Despite the venue’s size, King still interacted with the crowd talking about his kids and his respect for the talent in the band behind him. One man in the front row yelled out a request for “How Blue Can You Get?” and after some scrambling on stage and discussion about what key to play it in, the group rang into the first solo. The highlight of the night was King’s vocals halfway through the song as he ripped through the song with his raspy voice singing “I let you live in my penthouse/ you said it was just a shack!/ I gave you seven children/ and now you wanna to give 'em back!”