Words & Deeds

Concert review: At 80, Buddy Guy is still bleeping great

Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy Invision/AP file photo

After B.B. King died last year, fellow blues legend Buddy Guy told Rolling Stone that he realized, “I’m the last one here.”

But as the grinning octogenarian reminded 1,000 fans Monday in Boise, when it comes to being Buddy Guy, he’s always been the only one here.

Molesting his electric guitar with his hands, his teeth, even his backside, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer proved that 80 is the new, well — crazy?

Age forced King to perform from a chair later in life. It’s hard to imagine Guy even sitting down for a haircut.

Dropping gratuitous, gleeful F-bombs on the Morrison Center audience, he uncorked 90 minutes of unabashed showmanship.

Rarely have the blues been so much fun.

“Have you ever been mistreated?” Guy asked at the start of the blues standard “Five Long Years.” The crowd whooped its answer. “Then you know what the f--- I’m talkin’ about,” he exclaimed, custom-coarsening the lyrics as the cheers grew more enthusiastic.

Guy’s guitar playing was loose and loud, if occasionally cacophonous. Songs stretched into jams, ranging from Guy originals to blues covers to familiar Hendrix and Santana melodies.

Keeping the rhythmic train on the tracks was his four-piece Damn Right Blues Band. The ironclad backing unit was led by sizzling keyboardist Marty Sammon and shredding guitarist Ric “RicJaz” Hall, whose thick-toned solos could have fit into a progressive punk-metal band.

When the younger musicians showed their stuff, Guy sneaked into the shadows for a sip from a coffee cup. But the man couldn’t tolerate being out of the spotlight for long. Sometimes Guy assaulted his fretboard with a drumstick or a towel — and, yes, his rear end — almost like a fascinated kid exploring the instrument’s sonic possibilities in a bedroom.

One of his favorite techniques was to play guitar so quietly that you could hear a pin drop — then suddenly crank it.

“I also can play something so funky you can smell it,” he bragged.

Other Guy quips: “This song is older than I am.” “I didn’t practice that — that just come natural.”

Oh, and about his affinity for profanity? “I didn’t do that until hip-hop came out. Now I can say what the f--- I want!”

Fans laughed. They bobbed their heads to the beats. They screamed their approval at Guy’s antics. There’s nothing like watching an 80-year-old Chicago bluesman execute perfectly timed pelvic thrusts, right? (Not to mention sing about making a teenager “feel satisfied” during a cover of Muddy Waters’ “She’s 19 Years Old.”)

After telling a story about Marvin Gaye, Guy sang the soul great’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” with admirable style. At his age, Guy’s vocal versatility arguably is even more impressive than his guitar skills. He swished notes back in forth inside his mouth like mouthwash sometimes, finally releasing them — nice and fresh.

At the concert’s climax, Guy performed while walking to the back of the Morrison Center auditorium. Fans swarmed him, taking photos and shooting video. Blasting notes from his guitar, Guy even leaned back on an exit door to let people in and out.

“I like it here,” Guy gushed at one point in the evening. “S---, I’ll move here,” he threatened.

Just don’t expect this old man to take up any rooms at an old folks’ home.

Michael Deeds: 208-377-6407, @michaeldeeds

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