B.B. King + Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real – The Roseland (Portland, OR; Nov. 10, 2009)
How can I justify myself giving a “review” on B.B. King. I can’t, so here are the thoughts that rushed into my head during this incredible show. I’ll be brief.
Firstly, B.B. King is 84. Unfortunately, he won’t be playing forever. If you have not seen him and his band play, or are not planning to at some point, you have lost out.
On to the show. The first thing that came to mind when the band was setting up the stage was that these fine gentlemen control the stage with mannerisms that befit a group of musical secret service agents, getting the stage ready for the president of music. They have been there before, they know the scene, and they are packing some serious heat. They know they are not the focus of the show. But they are there to back up Mr. King at his beckoning. These guys have been playing music at a level most never will even be able to dream of. And they have been playing at that level for many more years than I have lived. They are those guys you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley and have a music fight with. They are the guys that keep such perfect time, Rolex is jealous . . . .
What I am trying to say: they are the best of the best. Period.
After the beginning numbers (saying they were warming up would be insulting), Mr. B.B. King joined the band on stage to a chorus of 1400 loving fans at the Roseland Ballroom. Mr. King wanted to take the time to say hello and wish all the beautiful women a good night. Pure class. Once he started playing, I really caught what sets him apart from anyone else. At the raising or lowering of one his hands, he can control the tempo of the band. With one note, he can raise the crowd into an uproar. Lucille wept for us, her vibrato voice slicing easily into our hearts. Music was made, not played. Stories were told, Mr King sat on his throne like a kind grandfather, passing his love on to the next generation. I hope the next generation listens.
This is the man who has played over 15,000 shows. This is the man who grew up on a plantation in Mississippi. This is the man who has set the bar so high, that just being in his presence can’t but make you smile. This is the man who spat in the face of insurmountable hardships.
This is The Man.
<b>Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real had the pleasure of opening the evening up.</b>
We had arrived early to the venue to scope the scene out, as we always do. To my dismay, they hadn’t set up a photo pit, which is always unnerving at a show, especially one we expected to be a packed house. People slowly trickled in. Little by little, the whole dance floor filled up. It was a tight fit for everyone there, especially for those of us with big cameras and lenses. Everyone wanted to be as close to the bands as possible, and understandably so.
We saw Lukas and his band at the restaurant downstairs. We introduced ourselves and told them we would be taking photos of their performance. We chatted briefly, shook hands, and then parted ways. When they finally took the stage, I had no idea what to expect. I had assumed that to open for such a legend as B.B. King, they would have to be as entertaining and mesmerizing and appropriate for the feel of the night.
Well, they were, and then some! If no scientist has ever been able to link genes with musical genius, they should have attended this show. Lukas Nelson and his talented band were plainly amazing. He follows in the footsteps of his famous father (Willie) to perfection. The crowd was enthralled. I feel they were genuinely surprised and ecstatic be able to attend a show with two amazing bands in a row.
Funkiness, a bit of country, and a whole lot of rock ‘n roll were all tied together with a bow on top in the form of a grand finale of high pitch guitar shredding via Lukas’ teeth! Danceable and fun, they have gained a huge following with their presence here in Portland. Personally, I can’t wait to see and hear them again!
Original write up and photo location on Melophobe: