April 24, 2013 – Buddy Guy is a 6 time GRAMMY Award winner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he’s played on over 60 records. He’s also the undisputed premier bluesman in the world today. Guy brought “Buddy’s Blues” to Massey Hall in Toronto on Saturday night.
At 76 years young, when most other performers are well into their retirement, Guy continues on in fine form. He said he’ll play until he drops and thankfully that doesn’t look to be any time soon. Guy’s association with Massey Hall stretches back 43 years when he first came to Toronto 43 years ago to play Massey Hall with Lonnie Johnson.
Opened with Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues from his landmark 1991 Grammy winning album of the same name and followed it with John Lee Hooker’s Hoochie Coochie Man. Rock and Roll as we know it wouldn’t be the same without the stamps put on it by messieurs Clapton and Page and Clapton and Page most certainly wouldn’t have been the same without the influences of Buddy Guy and the performers that Buddy Guy supported back in the day. And the influence is reciprocal, Guy played Cream’s classic Disraeli Gears song Strange Brew, a 12-bar blues which itself was directly inspired by Buddy Guy and Junior Wells’ version of Hey Lawdy Mama. Poignant moment of the night was the song Skin Deep and the message that underneath we’re all the same. Amen to that, Buddy. Amen to that.
The master showman, Guy played his guitar behind his back and with a drumstick. At one point, armed with a wireless connection to his amp, he came down off the stage, strolled up the center aisle, out through the doors and upstairs to the first balcony, soloing all the while.
The audience was always engaged. Guy told anecdotes of his incredible career throughout the night and songs were often stopped in an “impromptu” basis so Guy can continue his dialogue with the crowd. (Impromptu is in quotes because they were clearly rehearsed). Guy commanded the stage and at one point, sang to the crowd without a microphone, something only possible in the cozy confines and perfect acoustics of historic Massey Hall. The crowd sang along to Mustang Sally and Someone Else Is Steppin’ In and clapped and laughed at Guy’s stories throughout the show.
His band is Ric Hall on guitar, who himself stepped out on one song to play some searing guitar, Orlando Wright on bass, Marty Sammon on keyboards and Tim Austin on drums. One can’t talk about Buddy Guy’s show without some discussion on the opening artist, Quinn Sullivan. A music “veteran” at all of 14 years old, prodigy Sullivan played some scorching blues on his Stratocaster. It might sound too young to be a veteran, and while that could be stretching the truth just a little, Sullivan was on Ellen DeGeneres’ show at the age of six, played with Buddy Guy at the age of eight and toured with Buddy Guy last year. Sullivan was joined by Guy’s backing band with the exception of his drummer Tom Hambridge, who is also the producer of Sullivan’s CDs. Later Guy called Sullivan back on stage to play a few songs, including’s Hendrix’s Voodoo Child (Slight Return). Buddy’s admiration for the young man he’s mentored for several years shone through his beaming smile when Sullivan played.
We’ve been fortunate to see a number of great shows at Massey Hall lately, ranging from Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Simon Townshend, Classic Albums Live’s Dark Side of the Moon, Yes and Dennis DeYoung & the Music of Styx on Friday night, but seeing the living legend at the height of his game was a very special experience. Buddy Guy is a guitar virtuoso who plays with an effortless ease. An ease matched only by his dear friend Eric Clapton and those that saw the show will never forget it.