BB King died last night, at the same time U2 was on stage for the first show of the Innocence + Experience tour. Unrelated events in most ways, of course, but I did notice the coincidence.
I saw BB perform during the Lovetown tour, as opening act for U2 and of course on stage with the band for When Love Comes To Town. That’s how big a deal he was, that they named the tour for him. I did not appreciate him at the time, all I knew was that he had sung with U2 so he was cool. Didn’t know any of his music when he and his band performed, so I just rocked out with everyone else. I don’t know that I appreciate him today either, I still don’t know much about his music.
I don’t know that I rate When Love Comes To Town as highly as I graded it. This is definitely one of those songs where I go back and forth, there are times when I will listen to it and enjoy it completely, but other times it comes on and I immediately hit the Next button. I don’t know if there’s any common denominator that makes me do so, if it’s the mood I’m in or what. As BB says, those are kind of heavy lyrics, so maybe it does need to be a certain mood to hear the song.
His appearance in Rattle And Hum sealed it for me of course, the scenes where he and Bono meet backstage (and Bono’s really amazing humility in the face of the great man, as he reads the lyrics), then the warmup on stage, and finally finishing the song live in front of a crowd. It is neat to see that backstage, out of the public eye kind of interaction, it’s something you don’t often see. And like I said, seeing Bono being star-struck is amusing, I bet he felt it much more back then, a decade into being in band but only a few years into being a superstar himself, as compared to now when people are starstruck meeting him.
I remember when I first heard this thinking that it’s all Bono for the first part, but then thirty seconds in BB steps in and you really feel like his voice grabs you. Deep and powerful, compare it to Bono who at the time (and still now) was much higher. It is interesting to see the two of them switch off their parts, at first it’s BB doing the chorus and Bono doing the verses, but then BB gets the last chorus and for much of the second half of the song it’s all BB singing, except for some yeah yeahs that Bono adds in (along with the backing singers). Wonder how they decided who would sing what?
It is hard to tell who is playing what on this song, I could think that one part is Edge, or one part is BB, when it could easily be someone else in the band. About the only thing possible is to tell the drums, and they are very standard issue playing on the song, well executed as always by Larry.
My rating for When Love Comes To Town: 6 / 10