Still feels like such a heavy weight, knowing he’s gone. I, like a lot of others, have said my goodbye, and was expecting B.B. King to die for the last few years – in fact, in a way, this gig was my goodbye to him. The chance to (finally) see him. Okay, so he wasn’t at his best. But it was about the pilgrimage.
I’ve written about B.B. King heaps. Not just a recent eulogy but half a dozen other posts here and there – including before and after pieces around this gig, talking first about how I had to see him and then following up with a kind of review.
The show was not without its problems, obviously. He was old and in poor health and he rambled and took his time – but when he did sing and when he did play he sounded, for a guy in his 80s, remarkable. The power was still in that voice. That immaculate touch was still there when he would reach for just a sliver of guitar (and know, as always, the right note to hit).
But it was worth the trip – we drove, me and a mate, from Hawke’s Bay to Auckland and back in the day. We arrived late afternoon, enough time to buy some records at Real Groovy, (I remember buying a Freddie King one in fact) and then a quick feed, a drink and over to the venue. And there we saw kick-ass opening sets from our pal Paul Ubana Jones and from Ruthie Foster (she was wonderful).
And then B.B.
To the batmobile straight afters, and back to HB for a 5am bedtime.
It was a long and draining day – and it was emotional. And I’m glad we did it. No chance ever again for something like that.
Stubs is an occasional feature here at Off The Tracks – looking back through the ticket-stub box and remembering how the show went down.