The King and his Buddy bring the house down

B.B. King and Buddy guy sing the blues at Palace of Auburn Hills
REVIEW It's more like two elderly men who seem like they should be sitting in a condo near a golf course in Florida this time of year collecting Social Security checks.

But instead, B.B. King and Buddy Guy were in blustery Detroit Tuesday at the Fox Theatre, playing to a near sellout crowd. And the aforementioned song titles do nothing to describe the atmosphere at the Fox Tuesday night.

King, whose band walked out to the sounds of Howlin' Wolf's "Goin' Down Slow," took the stage after a 15-minute jam session by his four-piece rhythm section and four piece brass ensemble.

The legend's show got off to a bit of a slow start musically. After "I Need You," he began talking for quite a while, introducing one of his daughters and his great-granddaughter, as well as Anita Baker.

But once the music started again, he lit up like a young man without severe arthritis and diabetes.

He poured his heart and soul into the vocals of the blues standard "Key To The Highway," squeezed the sweetest sounds from his iconic Lucille on "Sweet Sixteen" and jazzed up his classic "Everyday I Have The Blues," which got the crowd singing along with the chorus.

B.B., seated center stage for the entire set, mixed stories and songs throughout the evening. He kept the banter quite entertaining, but stretched it a bit too long at times.

By the last notes of "The Thrill Is Gone," as he was handed his hat and coat and gingerly walked offstage, the crowd knew it had seen a special performance from a special man.

Preceding B.B.'s seated, brass-infused set was Buddy Guy's raw, ferocious display of blues power.

Opening with a flurry of "Goin' Down" and the Muddy Waters-penned "Hoochie Coochie Man" and "She's 19 Years Old," Guy then kicked the audience participation up a bit, invoking a sing-a-long chorus in his "slippin' In."

The crowd was eating up Guy's energetic showmanship, but he took it to another level when he played Albert King's classic "Drownin' On Dry Land" while walking up and down the center aisle of the main floor.

He wandered all the way to the soundboard and back, falling on to his knees during one solo, and pausing briefly to chat with Anita Baker toward the end of the song, saying "You know I'm in love with you, right? I get nervous when people like you are in the house."

After a stirring rendition of "Skin Deep", Guy paid homage to several other blues greats, playing a verse of longtime Detroiter John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom Boom," Waters' "I Just Want To Make Love To You," Cream's "Strange Brew" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile."

Sandwiched between was the appropriately titled "Fever" (King would reveal later that Buddy was feeling a little under the weather, but he didn't show it) and a heart-racing "Damn Right I've Got The Blues."

If these two elderly bluesmen are on their way down, you couldn't blame them. Both have more than made their mark on the music world and have cemented their legacies with the blues elite.

But why walk away when -- as they proved Tuesday night -- they still have so much to give.

The ABC12 Listening Room staff: James Chesna, editor-in-chief; Josh Daunt, managing editor, photographer; LeeAlan Weddel, contributing editor, staff writer, photographer; Beth McEnroe, staff writer, photographer; Gwen Mikolajczak, staff writer; Chris Harris, photographer, staff writer; Eric Fletcher, chief photographer; Randy Cox, photographer; Chris Carr, photographer; Norm Fairhurst, photographer; Jessica Reid, contributing photographer.

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