The last time I was in the Palace it was to see a movie as a kid - I think it was some Disney family flick.
This was my first time to evaluate what changes they’ve made to the place. All in all, it’s pretty decent in there. There’s only so much you can do with a small theatre space like that that isn’t a theatre. Sadly, Calgary is suffering a severe lack of theatres and art space in general at the moment, but a small theatre downtown just isn’t going to be a draw enough to make it viable.
We got down there pathetically early - technically before doors - so we well understood it was going to be a long wait for the show to get started. Lots and lots of time to hunker down and look at the building and decor.
The warm up band was, I believe, Warehouse from right here in Calgary. Which is a sadly unfortunate name because in Calgary, The Warehouse is also a venue that hosts live music. Know nothing about them, haven’t found a link via Google. Decent enough band, certainly good enough to open for Buddy Guy, but it was hard to comprehend the vocals and much of it was lost on me. Professional right to the point of prediction they’d play 45 minutes with a 20 minute changeover.
Okay, changeover was 30 minutes after all was said and done. Buddy Guy took the stage right at 10:15 and immediately started blowing the roof off the joint.
If you don’t know what you’re going to get at all, prepare yourself to be rammed head first into a great wall of sound that’s both music and noise and straight out wonderment. Yesterday was Buddy’s 71 birthday (I didn’t realize that until someone to our left kept yelling out “Happy Birthday Buddy!”) and I would never have believed it had he walked up to me on the balcony and stared me in the face.
Trademark to Buddy, he walked through the aisles, including up to the balcony, where he paused long enough to play some viciously pleasing riffs while staring me straight in the face. I think I finally got a sucky photo on my phone, I’ll try to get that up later.
After what must have been a 10 minute sojourn through the crowd, he got back on stage and kept pounding out lick after lick of magic. He brought it down, playing his guitar with a drumstick, he belted out finger fire of a showman guitarist, he performed pretty much the perfect bar gig for 80 minutes long to our adoration. When exhorting the crowd to love and care for each other - because some day we’re all going to need someone else - and getting the yells and screams, he got right back with “Shut the fuck up and listen” which probably drew at least as great a cheer from the crowd again. He’s a man that still carries massive club appeal and he’s well versed into what makes a show work perfectly.
Muddy Waters allegedly told Guy, “Don’t let them goddam blues die on me.“ Buddy Guy lives to respect the blues, to keep the blues alive and relevant and important. He’s a legend, one that I’m proud to have seen and heard. Fantastic show, I’m honoured to have been there.