Last time guitarist Buddy Guy came to town, he played Blues Alley inside and out, wandering outdoors at one point in the middle of a majestic solo. When Guy returned to the club for two sellout shows on Wednesday night, the club was so packed that a similar stroll was out of the question. It would have taken him five minutes just to reach the door.
But if the late show was less animated than previous visits, it wasn't any less impressive. A master of dynamics and arguably the best blues guitarist touring today, Guy, aided by a young, capable quartet, concentrated mostly on Chicago classics and was spurred on by a rowdy crowd that sometimes seemed more interested in shouting out requests than listening to what Guy had offer.
As usual, what Guy played wasn't nearly as important as how he played it. Feather-soft and sensual passages were frequently juxtaposed with rousingly passionate choruses, creating time and again the tension and release so vital to the music. His sexy tenor voice, the ease with which his guitar slid in and out of the shifting tempos, and an unexpected cameo by soul queen Carla Thomas -- who joined Guy on a raucous version of "Stormy Monday" -- made for an extremely potent combination as well.