The Live at Montreux concert-DVD/Blu-ray series has added the legendary B.B. King’s 1993 performance to their growing roster. B.B. and his band have been frequent performers over the course of the music festival’s long history, marking his 19th appearance a last week at the 2009 edition. Over the course of 100 minutes, the viewer will see a master showman at work on a Blu-ray disc that is a worthy addition to any music library.
Led by saxophonist Walter King, B.B.’s nephew, the band sounds good as they open the set with a few numbers on their own. Dressed in a turquoise dinner jacket with some type of Asian design on it, B.B. makes his entrance. He picks up his guitar Lucille and immediately makes her sing in the recognizable sweet, sweet tone he is famous for as he caresses her strings.
They play Louis Jordan’s “Let The Good Times Roll,” a jubilant celebration about living life in the moment. The audience shows they are into it by joining the call back on the first chorus. Guitarist Leon Warren gets a solo and is very good. As he does with every member, B.B. always points out a solo performance for recognition from the audience. Keyboardist James Toney gets his own time in the spotlight sandwiched between two B.B. solos on “When It All Comes Down (I’ll Still Be Around).”
B.B. reveals himself to be the consummate professional throughout the night. During “Chains of Love,” he pops a string and rather than get a new guitar or wait until the trumpet solo, he exemplifies the credo “the show must go on” and restrings it, with the help of Walter, all the while continuing to sing and convey the song’s emotion. During another Jordan song, “Caledonia,” he alternates the microphone height between himself and the two sax players who each come to the forefront of the stage for a solo. “All Over Again” is an outstanding instrumental where B.B. shows how well he can play quiet or loud.