When I saw B.B. King a couple decades ago, he and his band rolled into Madison as an all-conquering blues machine. King's electric guitar was piercing, his singing passionate. He paced the concert like a master showman, with the goal of driving the crowd mad. He more than lived up to his legend as one of the greatest blues artists of all time.
Saturday night's show at Overture Hall revealed a shakier, less focused B.B. King. At 87, he's more inclined to chat than to play a song straight through. His rough eight-piece band was often reduced to vamping quietly as he interrupted a solo to tell a long story, or to engage the audience in a sing-along.
Sitting in his chair at center stage, King did seem to have a good time and, to be fair, so did the audience. They shouted endearments to him, and he shouted back. His appearance here might have been more a victory lap than a concert, but at this stage of King's illustrious career, most people probably don't begrudge him that.