Buddy Guy Massey Hall, Toronto ON, April 14
Published Apr 15, 2018"I can play something so funky, you can smell it," legendary blues singer and guitarist Buddy Guy told a packed Massey Hall last night.
"I can smell it!" came a cry from the audience. Guy laughed with a raspy charm as only he can, moving through little prop-assisted guitar stunts and tricks. It could be argued that since B.B. King's passing in 2015, Buddy Guy is the last true bluesman left. Guy is all about the blues, a big grin and his guitar. And fans love him for it. He walked out on stage in an orange silk polka-dotted shirt with a black and white polka-dotted guitar. He started off with "Damn Right I've Got the Blues" — a song all too representative of the life and times of this great man.
Guy smoothly worked his way through numerous top-notch blues hits from other great bluesmen in his life. Some of his set list included Willie Dixon's "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man," Muddy Waters' "Close to You" and "Feels Like Rain" by John Hiatt.
Guy loved to give the audience what they want. That included pelvic thrusts and playful guitar hooks, and walking out into the Massey Hall crowd to perform up close and personal for cellphone videos.
Guy's days picking cotton in Louisiana are far behind him, and now he is a mentor to some of the greatest living guitar players. Guy paid tribute to one of those dear friends, Eric Clapton, with a snippet of the Cream song "Sunshine of Love." He'd also give the Buddy treatment to Marvin Gaye's "Isn't That Peculiar" and Jimi Hendrix-style instrumentals by the end of the evening.
Guy's focus on other greats is indicative of his status as a great lover of the blues and a great collaborator. But at the core of the performance was his enjoyment of audience interaction, and his profound respect for Muddy Waters. While Elvis was watching Little Richard, Guy was watching Muddy Waters, he said.
Despite having begun his eighth decade of life, Guy lacks no amount of boyish playfulness. When he sang Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Making Love," urging the audience to sing back the salacious lyrics, one could see his tooth actually sparkle mid-grin.
If the phrase "you're only as good as your band" ever applied, if would be here. Guy surrounds himself with stellar musicians. The keyboardist was putting out fires and the guitarist was having just as much fun as Guy, throwing in flourishes galore during his solo.
"When you all make me feel like this, I'll play all night," said Guy. Unfortunately, not even an encore was in the cards. But that's not to say anyone left unsatisfied. Guy's Massey Hall stint was the 14th in as many years. As a pioneer of the Chicago West Side sound, it goes without saying that any chance to see this fun-loving, living piece of history should be jumped on. Guy's energy and passion for those old-time blues is so infectious, there is no way he is giving up tour life.