Gig Review: BB King

BB KingPlayhouse, Edinburgh *****

If I make it to 85 with even a fraction of BB King's mojo, I reckon I'll die happy – as the man himself seems ready to do, whenever his time may come. Not in any morbid sense of going quietly, or giving up the ghost, but having lived life to the max until the finish – even to the extent of flirting openly with the prospect, in a halfdefiant, half-serene rendition of Blind Lemon Jefferson's See That My Grave Is Kept Clean, from King's latest, Grammy-winning album One Kind Favour.

He might need helped on and off stage nowadays, arriving to an instant standing ovation after an extended warm-up from his tuxedo-ed eight-piece band, but once settled centre stage, his beloved Lucille in his hands (the name King has given his trademark Gibson guitars for over half a century), he remains a life-force to revel in, presiding in a manner at once imperious and impish.

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Although craftily rationed throughout a 90-minute set – in among plenty of banter with his sidemen and the sellout crowd – King's voice has lost little of its roomily resonant, deeply burnished potency, duetting seamlessly with the elastic vocal eloquence of his peerless guitar artistry, as Lucille alternately sobbed and sang. He can still smoulder and scorch with the best of them, as in the implacable carnal swagger of Rock Me Baby; plumb the depths of desolate anguish (Every Day I Have the Blues) or melt the least forgiving female heart (I Need You So): long may he reign.