Over the years the Hammersmith Apollo (now Eventim Apollo) has become synonymous with legendary rock n’ roll shows and tonight is no exception.
02-July-2016: This evening, seven-time Grammy Award winner Buddy Guy makes a rare appearance in the capital, his first show in London since 2010.
It goes without saying that a capacity crowd is in attendance to see the legendary bluesman who is fast approaching his 80th birthday. Despite his recent absence from our British shores, Buddy Guy is no stranger to the UK, having been a regular visitor since his first appearance here in 1965.
At the age of 17, Buddy Guy’s young guitar prodigy, Quinn Sullivan, who released his new album Midnight Highway recently, opens the show. Sullivan lights up the stage, showing the Hammersmith crowd just why he caught Buddy’s eye at the mere age of seven. Quinn states that he has longed to play in London, and judging by tonight’s performance, it won’t be his last.
Sullivan is backed on stage by Buddy Guy’s band and additionally Grammy Award winning drummer/producer Tom Hambridge, who also worked on Quinn’s latest album. Subsequently, Hambridge co-wrote Sullivan’s track “Buddy’s Blues,” which depicts the pair’s initial meeting and is included in the set tonight.
Quinn demonstrates some passionate playing particularly during his rendition of “Little Wing,” which leans more towards the Derek and the Dominos take on the track, before finishing his set off with “Let It Rain,” leaving the stage to rapturous applause.
Buddy Guy is in a joyous mood this evening, as he takes the stage, his smile beaming, he tells the London audience he ambitiously wants to play till sunrise.
Some of Buddy’s friends may sadly no longer be with us, but their music lives on through him. Throughout the evening, he teases the audience with an assortment of numbers from some of the blues greats, including tracks made famous by the likes of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon.
Buddy states that he learnt to play listening to the likes of John Lee Hooker as he strums out a few bars of “Boom Boom Boom.” He pronounces B.B. King as the “greatest guitar player that ever played” before launching into King’s classic, “Sweet Sixteen.”
Buddy comments on the state of blues music in the US in that they no longer play this type of music on the radio in America. He tells the audience if we call him, he will come anytime we call, and London would have him back in a heartbeat. Buddy’s sense of humour and storytelling ability resonates with the audience, and every song is accompanied by a tale.
Making the grand surroundings of the Eventim Apollo feel intimate, Buddy takes a walk off stage and ventures into the middle of the audience whilst playing “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In,” the fans loving the up close and personal encounter. Tom Hambridge, who also produced Buddy Guy’s latest record Born To Play The Guitar, takes to the stage to add backing vocals on the beautiful “Skin Deep.”
Quinn Sullivan makes his second appearance of the evening returning to the stage to jam with Buddy on Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” Glancing over at Quinn with a look of pride on his face, Buddy explains that when he first arrived in the UK in ’65, he didn’t have a record deal, but ended leaving with one. His hopes are that someone will give Quinn a recording contract here tonight. Buddy jokes that at Quinn’s age, he couldn’t even play a fucking radio like that, much to their amusement. Judging by this performance, Sullivan very much puts himself in the shop window.
As Buddy Guy leaves the stage, his band and Quinn play on to the tune to Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” Rather ironically, Santana will be playing on this very stage merely 24 hours after the conclusion of this show.
Buddy Guy continues to fly the flag for the blues musicians of yore whilst also passing on his knowledge and experience to the future generations of blues artists. His contribution to the genre and its musicians will ensure the music he has spent his life playing will continue for decades to come. Buddy Guy is a living legend; watching him perform was both an honor and a pleasure.