Then Play On (1969)

B.B. King spells out the blues

B.B. King, Fleetwood Mac, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Duster Bennett: Royal Albert Hall, London

B.B. King spelled out the blues for a large, rapturous crowd at London’s Royal Albert Hall last week. It was at Tuesday’s opening of a well-varied package show which began with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee followed by Duster Bennett. The second half was shared by Fleetwood Mac and King, and after B.B.’s high-voltage performance nobody seemed to want to go home.

He appeared to be as affected by the welcome as we were by his subtly controlled vocal and instrumental art. From the beginning of his “Every Day I Have The Blues” to his final encore, B.B. and his fine tight band projected swing, electrifying feeling, a highly professional polish and a kind of charm which is not all that common among blues artists.

What tunes he worked with hardly seemed to matter. But a slow and pretty solo titled “Friends” was a lovely display of his crying guitar methods; “Don’t Answer The Door” and “Paying The Cost To Be The Boss” were mean indeed; the story of “Lucille” held the audience delighted, while “Rock Me, Baby” allowed them to jump with joy.

The McGhee-Terry duo scored with “Born With The Blues” and Sonny’s “Hootin'” breakdown and “Night And Day,” less so with a folksy “Rock Island Line.”

Duster Bennett blew, banged and picked prodigiously on “I’m The One,” “Shady Little Baby” and “Country Jam.”

And Fleetwood Mac turned in a strongly charged programme which included an impressive guitar duet, “Like Crying,” by Peter Green and Danny Kirwan, and a rocking “Long Tall Sally” finale.

Max Jones / Melody Maker / May 3, 1969

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