Runaway Dinosaur

For the love of the music…..

Wolfgang’s Vault Concert of the Week-BB King at the Fillmore East 6.19.71 (Early & Late Shows)

Posted by jhochstat on June 19, 2008

Every now and again when I am walking through the East Village and past the Emigrant Savings Bank that stands where the famed Fillmore East used to be, I wonder how rockin’ that venue must have been “back in the day”. Today we present you a day of epic performances from the King of the Blues himself, BB King at the legendary Fillmore East.

On this date 37 years ago, BB King took the Fillmore East stage for 2 shows, early & late and in the process took his music further into the mainstream of American music.

Here is what Wolfgang’s Vault has to say about these shows:

These two Fillmore East sets by the great American blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, B.B. King, capture him at the peak of popularity. The previous year, his remake of the Roy Hawkins’ tune, “The Thrill Is Gone,” raced up both the pop and R&B charts, gaining him many more fans and more media attention than at any other time in his career. For the first time, he was experiencing mainstream success, and he sounds passionate and full of conviction.

Fans of his Live at Cook County Jail LP will find these shows just as remarkable, if not more so. King always delivered well-rehearsed, utterly professional shows, and these are no exception; in fact, he sounds even more relaxed and spontaneous here. King has obvious enthusiasm for his music, and when he solos you can hear the sheer joy of it in every note. His brilliant, inspired guitar playing defies easy categorization. Whether he sounds soulful, rocking, contemplative, or down and dirty, his guitar style and tone exudes authority with every note.

This early show begins as King is taking the stage following a band warm up number, and he dives right into what he does best with the powerhouse slow blues of “Let Me Love You.” For most of the song, King solos over the piano, bass and drums, with his delicious guitar tone unadorned. Not until the last two minutes does the rest of the group kick in. “Walkin’ Doctor Bill” increases the tempo and excitement level. “So Excited” and “(Ain’t That) Just Like A Woman” feature swinging horn punctuation and infectious piano from Ron Levi. The latter jams directly into a short instrumental, showcasing the other guitar player, Milton Hopkins, who cranks up his wah-wah pedal to the audiences’ audible delight. Another instrumental follows, this one a laid back exercise that lets the sax players have a blow. King returns to the mike for “Please Accept My Love,” and a fantastic version of “The Thrill Is Gone” follows, with King in great form, peeling off delicious solos and singing with utter conviction. Another short jam follows, again featuring Hopkins on wah-wah guitar with the horn section letting loose. The set ends with another powerhouse slow blues, “Sweet Sixteen.”

This is a very enjoyable set, but a mere warm up for the late show.

The late show begins with King’s band warming up on an instrumental with a style somewhere between R&B and contemporary jazz. At the end they announce B. B. King, who takes command of the stage and again leads the group through a double whammy of straight blues. First up is King’s trademark “Everyday I Have the Blues,” which segues into “How Blue Can You Get.” Levi’s infectious piano playing, the hot horn arrangements -to say nothing of King’s powerful guitar playing and impassioned vocals – all add up to a great performance, already equaling the best moments of the earlier show.

The first of this set’s instrumentals kicks things into high gear. This swinging rocker features frenetic piano and smoking guitar throughout. “A Whole Lotta Lovin'” is another up-tempo number with King and the group rocking out full tilt. The style’s reminiscent of Johnny Winters, but with a refinement and tension control that is pure B.B. They then slows things down and delivers a searing, slow blues number showcasing his delicious guitar tone and vocals. Next up is a cover of Leon Russell’s “Hummingbird.” While the piece is enjoyable as an ensemble performance, King’s vocals seem to lack the usual conviction.

Another hot instrumental jam gets things cooking again before the band begin vamping while King introduces the musicians. The band segues into another powerhouse version of “Sweet Sixteen,” here played in its entirety. With hardly a second to catch their breath, the group launches into another, wild instrumental featuring Hopkins’ wah-wah guitar. The piece slows down and morphs into “The Thrill Is Gone.” It’s another fantastic version with King in great form, peeling off delicious solos and singing with utter conviction. Another short jam follows, featuring Hopkins on wah-wah guitar and the horn section letting loose as King exits the stage.

Early Show (click title to play show)
01-Let Me Love You
02-Walkin’ Doctor Bill
03-You’re So Fine
04-Ain’t That Just Like a Woman
07-Please Accept My Love
08-The Thrill Is Gone
10-Sweet Sixteen

Late Show (click title to play show)
02-Every Day I Have the Blues
03-How Blue Can You Get
05-A Whole Lotta Lovin’
06-Nobody Loves Me But My Mother
10-Sweet Sixteen
12-The Thrill Is Gone


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