(Toronto, ON Canada)
Pickett's performance at Massey Hall this night was flawless and engrossing throughout his entire time on stage. He played acoustic guitar throughout, as well as blues harp (on a rack) with rousing, forceful vocals that radiated the confidence and supreme talent that only a decades-long blues performer can muster up and deliver to an audience, with ease, effortlessly like a blues angel flapping its wings.
Pickett kept his heart-palpitating excitement subdued at being Buddy Guy's opening act. Pickett said, "This is the first time in 31 years that I've been on Massey Hall's stage - since the time I backed Big Mama Thornton and John Lee Hooker." (with his then legendary Canadian blues band Wooden Teeth). How do I look?"
Pickett's harp playing and vocals along with his rousing rhythm and lead guitar parts sounded like a full orchestra at times. His mind-blowing performance had this writer reminiscing about B.B. King's blues orchestra - all the while marvelling at how well Mr. Pickett manages to make his solo act seem so full. It sounded as if he and his singing and playing were a full orchestral blues show in itself. The acoustics at Massey Hall, built as a concert hall in 1894, showed off Pickett's musical subtleties to their very best.
His rousing finale "Can't Find My Way Back Home" on National Steel guitar was a masterpiece in which he played some wicked harp that only a 'disgruntled devil stubbing his toe on a rock at the crossroads' could muster up to belt out! Cheers and screams for "More!!!" were characteristic of Massey Hall's audience reaction to Michael's songs before and after each tune was performed. There was a decided din in the air after Pickett's incredible time on stage had ended.
He entertained Massey Hall in the way a Robert Johnson or Ledbelly could and did decades earlier. It was a great pleasure for this writer and I'm sure for most if not all of the audience (2500 strong) at Massey Hall this night, to witness perfection at its rootsiest and purest best, from a man who's style and delivery is as good as the blues ever gets!
© 2006 Michael Pickett