Tedeschi Trucks Band, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Comerica Theatre, 9/1/12

Tedeshi Trucks Band, B.B. King, Robert Cray @ Comerica Theatre| 9/1/12
See also: Derek Trucks Talks Family Life on the Road See also: The full B.B. King Slideshow
Let's get something straight: last night's show at Comerica Theatre was not a B.B. King show. It was a Tedeschi Trucks Band concert.

B.B. King was not the headliner, much to the surprise of a few. And in all honesty, Tedeschi Trucks would have upstaged him if he was, but that's sort of the idea: King is an originator, a storied bluesman who inspired countless followers, followers like Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.

With that out of the way, what transpired last night, as a whole, was nothing short of some of the greatest blues music this city will ever see.

Walking into Comerica, one could catch a whiff of smugness lingering in the air. It was the kind of pretention masters of a particular craft are entitled to, after years of working the circuit. Make no mistake; each performer has mastered the elusive art of the blues. Comerica is acoustically ideal for the intricacies of hammer-ons, pulls, and a horn section that would make Dizzy Gillespie, well, dizzy.

When Robert Cray is the opening act, you should expect greatness. There was only one problem: His set was too short. He set the stage for what was to follow, with "Won't be coming Home," "Right Next Door," and "Smokin' Gun," before abruptly exiting the stage. Like an unforgettable one-night-stand, I was left feeling cheated and wanting more, a feeling that quickly subsided.

As is the case with royalty, B.B. King received a standing ovation upon his arrival to the stage. The undisputed king of the blues will be 87 in a couple of weeks, but you wouldn't know it from his energy onstage. King's presence is that of a beloved grandfather who makes you laugh, and just happens to provide you with unrivaled Mississippi blues.

The man is the King, although it seemed as if he was simply told to show up at a particular time and needed to be informed -- in front of the audience, no less -- who was headlining the show.

He opened his set with "I Need You So" and proceeded with "Everyday I Have the Blues" at a much faster tempo than I had ever heard before. He moved into a Blind Lemon Jefferson cover of "See That My Grave is Kept Clean" before letting the crowd take over with a rendition of "You are My Sunshine." King's classic, and often last played, "The Thrill is Gone," came a bit earlier than expected before he finished out his set with "Guess Who." Although King's set only consisted of half-a-dozen songs, he stretched each song out with long interludes and anecdotes, keeping the audience highly entertained. As expected, he received another standing-O as he was helped from his chair to make his way off stage.

The Tedeschi Trucks band quickly went to work, setting the theatre ablaze with "Love Has Something Else to Say" and "Don't Let Me Slide." It was obvious after "Until You Remember" that this band isn't just a husband-and-wife-run blues powerhouse. It's a marriage counselor. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks seemed to share an intimacy onstage that translated directly into an amazing crowd experience. Susan Tedeschi is a goddess, able to alternate between gut-wrenching vocals and quite reservation. The entire 11-piece band possesses a staggering amount of talent, each capable of independent success. But as a unit, Tedeschi Trucks is mind-blowing. The energy in the crowd swelled and dissipated like Louisiana flood waters during "Rollin' and Tumblin" and a George Harrison cover of "Isn't it a Pity." Tedeschi took a break during "Nobody's Free," while Trucks and saxophonist Kebbie Williams kept the show going with a 5-minute interlude.

What blues concert would be complete without a Stevie Ray Vaughn cover? T.T. ripped through "The Sky is Crying," allowing Tedeschi to showcase her amazing axe skills. They followed with another cover, this one completely out of left field, Stevie Wonder's "Uptight" before finishing their set with "Bound for Glory." But the band had certainly earned an encore. They took the stage again for the roaring audience, belting through "I'd Rather be Blind, Crippled, and Crazy" and the Sly and the Family Stone's "I Wanna Take You Higher," cementing their reputation as more than a blues band. By the end of the jaw dropping set, each of the 11 members was given an opportunity to shine individually through various solos, but it was obvious that Tedeschi Trucks is much more than the sum of its individual parts.

Set List:

Robert Cray:

"Won't be Coming Home" "Right Next Door" "Smoking Gun"

B.B. King:

"I Need You So" "Everyday I Have the Blues" "See That My Grave is Kept Clean" "You are My Sunshine" "The Thrill is Gone" "Guess Who"

Tedeschi Trucks Band:

"Love Has Something Else to Say" "Don't Let Me Slide" "Until You Remember" "Ball and Chain" "Rollin and Tumblin" "Isn't it a Pity" "What You Deserve" "Midnight in Harlem" "Nobody's Free" "The Sky is Crying" "Uptight" "Bound for Glory" "I'd Rather be Blind, Crippled, and Crazy" "I Wanna Take You Higher"

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Tedeschi Trucks band with B.B. King and Robert Cray

The Crowd: Young and Old

Personal Biased: B.B. King and great female vocalists.

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