Friday, July 01, 2011

Blues at the Royal Albert Hall

click photos to enlarge
A few nights ago I went to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was billed as the final UK tour by the great blues guitarist, B. B. King. As I watched the 85 year old legend charm the audience, effortlessly unleash his blues licks, and good humouredly accept the prompts and corrections of his backing musicians, I wondered if this really would be his final appearance on these islands. I say this because I was accompanied to the concert by my oldest son, and a couple of years ago he attended a B. B. King concert that was also described as part of his last UK tour. Well, at those advanced years you're entitled to change your mind. In fact, I couldn't care less whether it was B. B.'s final performance in Britain or not. If the truth be told, I'd be happy to see him go on picking his Gibson over here for many more years to come.

The show was characterised by good music and a display of the easy professionalism that can only be acquired through sixty five or more years on stage. His playing was economic, affecting, masterful. The backing band, some of whom had been with him over forty years, showed similar qualities. The four-piece brass section was tight, crisp and effective and the keyboard player perfectly sensed when to lead, embellish or support. His second guitarist was very accomplished and could lead as well as follow. However, my eyes frequently fell upon the bass guitarist and the drummer. I often feel that if you don't get the rhythm section of a band right then it's hard for the rest to shine. B. B. King had superlative musicians in these roles, and they laid down a solid bedrock on which the others could build. More than that, they seemed to spend the whole two hours playing, because between  most songs there was always a little music being played behind the leader's chatter.

A group of "guests" featured in the second half of the show - Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Slash, Ronnie Wood and Mick Hucknall. I had the LX3 with me and got a couple of interior shots and a few "after the show" shots in the street outside the famous venue.

photographs and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2
Shutter Speed: 1/20
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On