Buddy Guy refuses to slow down. Betraying very few signs of his 74 years, Guy led an enthusiastic, sold-out Red Butte Garden crowd through a celebratory 80-minute set, backed by his crack band.
As part of the venue's annual "Garden in the Gala," evening, Guy wowed many in the audience by playing roughly the same set that's been the backbone of his live show for more than 15 years.
Relying heavily on songs from outside his own records, including the standard tribute schtick that Guy's employed since at least the early '90s thrilled the audience as he interwove Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile," with Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," while playing guitar one-handed, behind his back and with a towel.
Don't try any of that home. Much less when you're as old as Guy.
For years, Guy has largely eschewed playing songs from his own albums, save for a few here and there such as "74 Years Young," and "Let The Door Knob Hit Ya," which are both from 2010's "Living Proof."
Guy, who in the '60s recorded alongside blues icon Muddy Waters, also repeatedly borrowed songs and lyrics from Waters' songbook, including "I Just Want To Make Love To You," "She's 19 Years Old and "Hoochie Coochie Man."
Regardless of the songs, it's the loads of Guy's stinging guitar that really attracts the crowd to the living legend's concerts and he delivered, heading out into the crowd for an extended lead - a trademark of Guy shows for decades. He also showed a soulful side by singing the sultry "Skin Deep," from his 2008 release of the same name.
Ultimately, you're a either a fan of Guy's showmanship and smoking licks or not, and the show definitely had an air of Guy preaching to the choir, but the biggest wonder of the show remains Guy's resilience and ability to retain the intensity his shows have always featured.
Guy's set followed soul queen Mavis Staples' opening set, which was capped by a long version of "I'll Take You There," which had the audience on its feet - no easy task at Red Butte when the sun's still out.
Follow Salt Lake Magazine arts/entertainment writer Scott Murphy on Twitter @murphyinfo.