By Dwight Hobbes
Blues legend Buddy Guy can be brilliant or on some b.s. Depends on whether you catch him on a good night. When he’s tight, he kills. When he’s not, well, he’s not.
In the Twin Cities on Mar. 2, he had his act wired tight, for the most part. Guy delivered a largely hellified set that, in the last 20 minutes to a half-hour, lapsed into tedium. Before getting lazy, he laid in a good hour of blistering, quintessential Chicago-style blues, which included Freddie King’s “Love Her with the Feeling,” Ora Denise Jones’ “Slippin’ In” and Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.” And some downright ungodly guitar — just hateful.
And on top of playing nasty as hell, he sang with pure, unadulterated fire. There was the hope with Quinn Sullivan opening that he and Guy would do “Midnight Train,” the incredible duet Guy recorded with Jonny Lang. After all, Sullivan and Lang are both precocious young White cats playing Black folks’ music.
Alas, no such luck. Quinn Sullivan, save for a watered, slipshod cover of Derek & the Dominoes cover of the Jimi Hendrix Experience classic “Little Wing,” did, though, acquit himself well for a 45-minute set. For good measure, he decided to truly get beside hisself by taking a stroll through the entire house — including the balcony — playing and singing his behind off every step of the way (with battery-powered amps and mikes, y’ can do that).
Guy easily could have and definitely should’ve shaved the last 20 minutes off his program. It consisted of meandering tedium, inexplicable after about 90 minutes of brilliance. For part of it, he called Quinn Sullivan back on stage for half-assed takes on the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” and the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” Considering Buddy Guy’s extensive catalog, it’s anybody’s guess why he wound the night up on a weak note.
Perhaps because he wasn’t on his home grounds in Chicago where audiences don’t take shorts. The past three trips through the Twin Cities he still hasn’t dusted off, from his early repertoire back when he was on Vanguard Records, the amazing version he does of the old Berry Gordy-penned hit, “Money” (the song the Beatles made famous). That would’ve been great. At any rate, it was a good night for the old master.