Buddy Guy at the State Theatre, 10/16/10
October 16, 2010
State Theatre, Minneapolis
For a taste of Minnesota's finest seasonal weather and the Midwest's greatest portrayal of the blues, it would be safe to say the best place to be this past Saturday evening was in downtown Minneapolis at the State Theatre.
Straight from the Blues Capitol of the World, Chicago's Buddy Guy came through town in support of his recent album, Living Proof.
Recognizable for his unique and undeniably progressive guitar endeavors, Buddy Guy is a legend, first and foremost. His performance made the lines between a comedy show and a concert undeniably fuzzy; for roughly three hours the comfortably packed theater of patrons were slapping their knees and curling over in laughter from his humbling conversation and respective use of profanity. Guy is perhaps the youngest 74-year-old that has graced the stage of the State Theatre; he might just be in the best shape of his life.
First, we were welcomed by the 11-years-old Quinn Sullivan, possibly the 7th wonder of the guitar world and Guy's acclaimed guitar protégé. Sullivan is the type of prodigy that the most of us only get to witness on places like YouTube. This kid puts Justin Bieber to shame. The young boy, wearing a plaid-flannel shirt and white Nike kicks, walked out on stage and the crowd almost immediately flushed with confusion. From the moment he started shredding the neck of the guitar up and down the stage, you could practically hear a pin drop throughout the theater. He played a full 45-minute set of blues songs, highlighting his talent with guitar solos that at a few points topped four to five minutes in length. Watch out Eric Clapton, I am pretty sure you have some competition.
After Quinn Sullivan's mind-blowing performance and a standing ovation, the little genius welcomed his mentor to the stage.
Guy approached the stage with a prominent amount of grace and luster, fashioned stylishly comfortable in a grey and red striped track suit and a Kangol-inspired flat cap. His guitar strap was adorned with a diamond studded pin, glaring the initials B.G. towards the crowd with every movement of his guitar. Was this the greatest blues guitarist, or one of the forerunners of Run-DMC? I am sure Buddy Guy would argue that it's practically all the same thing.
His opening quote of the night would eventually prove to put Minneapolis's legendary guitarist [Prince] right in his place: "Ima' play something so funky you can smell it!" At one point he even ended up playing the guitar with his keister.
Buddy used the audience as part of his performance quite proficiently. His interaction with the fans would prove that he's no rookie; the blues are in his soul and performing is simply his outlet. Often breaking in between songs he would make conversation or shower us with tid-bits of music history lessons. In one of his song breaks, Buddy latently announced that he plays with no set lists, nor does he rehearse his material. "The band has to stay alert!," he proclaimed.
He would go on to prove how impressively talented his backing band really is, proclaiming that his drummer [Tom Hambridge] is actually his producer, and that he wrote the majority of the material on his previous album. During his performance of "HooDoo Man Blues" Guy broke a guitar string, bringing another round of laughter to the audience when he jokingly stated, "As soon as I sang, "HooDoo the Voo Doo Man, a string broke!"
Guy showed more energy and a greater amount of livelihood than many musicians half his age. Going the distance to reach the audience, Buddy walked off the stage (wireless guitar in hand) and made his way up and down the aisles of the theater, even all the way up into the lobby, leaving the quick moving security guards in a sweat. He used his guitar as more of an appendage than an instrument, with ease and a lack of caution; his guitar became the spotlight as he played bits with his tongue, his jacket, and of course his caboose.
By the evening's end, the audience had a tough time peeling themselves off their seats. A positively electrifying performance left fans plastered to the floor and absolutely inspired.
Personal Bias: I had the honorable experience of interviewing Mr. Guy prior to his stop in the Twin Cities. I can't say I have ever spoken to an artist as humbling and daringly-honest as this one.
The Crowd: The majority of the audience was of the mature persuasion.
Overheard in the crowd: "YEAH CHI-TOWN" - From the insistently disruptive man that kept bouncing seats closer to the front of the stage.
Random Notebook Dump: For an older type of crowd, these cats are not reserved, nor quiet. I've seen less movement at some pretty major First Ave. shows.
For more photos: See our complete slideshow by Stacy Schwartz.
"Nobody Cares About Me like My Guitar"
A medley of "Hoochie Choochie Man" & "She's 19 years Old"
"HooDoo Man Blues"
"Dirty Mother for You"
"Someone Else Is Steppin' In (Slippin' Out, Slippin In)"
"(You Give Me) Fever"
"Living Proof" (A mixture of songs off of the Living Proof album)
"I Just Want to Make Love to You"
The following songs he delved in and out of:
"Voodoo Chile" (Hendrix Cover)
"Crossroads" (Cream Cover)
"Use Me" (Bill Wither's Cover)
"Miss You" (Rolling Stone Cover)