Buddy Guy brings fiery Chicago blues to Coquitlam, but can't outshine opener Jonny Lang

Blues legend Buddy Guy brought a taste of Chicago to the wilds of Coquitlam last night, but the verifiable guitar legend was outshone by a "kid" 45 years younger than himself.

Jonny Lang opened the show with an hour-long set that included a showstopping version of Tinsley Ellis's "A Quitter Never Wins"--which Lang first recorded on his 1997 debut album, Lie to Me, when he was only 16--as well as the inspiring "Red Light", taken from his 2003 release, Long Time Coming. I don't think I've ever seen a singer-guitarist express as much raw emotion as Lang did last night. In the parlance of Fubar--not to mention Fubar II--he was totally "givin' er" throughout.

It didn't hurt that he was accompanied by a knockout band that included two guys from Nashville--guitarist Akil Thompson and keyboardist Dwan Hill--and a couple more from Minneapolis--bassist James Anton and drummer Barry Alexander. When it came time for Thompson to sneak in a couple of solos, he proved to be the paragon of subtlety and taste.

Guy took the stage to the strains of "Damn Right, I've Got the Blues", the title track of his Grammy-winning 1991 album, and immediately laid out the searing, raunchy blues licks that made him a hero to the likes of Jimi Hendrix back in the '60s. The 76-year-old native of Louisiana, long based in the Windy City, went on to perform the uplifting ode to racial equality, "Skin Deep", and the autobiographical "74 Years Young" from his latest disc, 2010's Living Proof.

The part in Guy's set where he imitates the six-string stylings of various pickers--from John Lee Hooker to Eric Clapton to Albert King--is getting a little stale--especially if who've seen him do it four or five times. And the erratic pacing of his setlist, with all those sudden starts and unexpected stops, is a little off-putting.

All in all, Guy's showmanship--whether playing a guitar behind his back or whipping one with a towel--was no match for the soulful intensity of Lang. Not that they were competing or anything.

And it would have been nice if the two had gotten together and traded licks at the end of the night, seeing as the blues is made for jammin'. I for one was quite surprised that that didn't happen.

You can follow Steve Newton on Twitter at twitter.com/earofnewt.

Comments (4) Add New Comment
Pat
Saw things completely differently than guy who wrote this column. Jonny Lang can't hold a candle to Buddy Guy, even at 76.

And, yes, they have played together on the same stage many times, including two years ago in Vancouver at the Centre.

On that occasion, Buddy just toyed with him, and it was clear that Jonny Lang is not even remotely close to being the guitarist Buddy Guy is.
3
5
Rating: -2
Blues Buddy
I agree completely with the review Steve. Jonny Lang put on the better show even if Buddy Guy is the better guitar player of the two. I was also a little disappointed that they didn't get together at the end. I enjoyed both tremendously though. Like you said, I think Buddy only played three songs all the way through which took away from the flow. Great showmanship though and really had us laughing a lot.

A couple of things you didn't mention:

1. Buddy's band: The 2nd guitarist was great but only got 1 solo at the start. The bass player and drummer never got to shine. The piano player kinda dominated with what seemed like more solos than Buddy himself.
2. Some rude fans shouting at Buddy while he's trying to speak/play. No class.
3. Two guys fighting over Buddy's snot rag? Gross.
6
7
Rating: -1
Duane Ellen
Steve Newton: Effing clueless... What an idiot.
4
4
Rating: 0
Eric Johnson
I'm a new guitar player and I've been teaching myself guitar for about 8 months, but I still feel like I'm not a great guitar player.I know basic chords and I've been working on getting better at barre chords. But my wrist and fingers are still not used to challenging chords yet. Also I don't know most notes on the neck. So I need help in my guitar lessons. And another problem I have, is that whenever I try to tune my guitar to my piano, I can never seem to get the notes to be exactly right. There always just a bit off and I don't want to be playing a badly tuned guitar!! Help!!
6
6
Rating: 0
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.