B.B. King show was no thrill
It is with the utmost disappointment I write to comment on the Nov. 21 concert at the Benedum by B.B. King.
The management of that theater really dropped the ball. The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., and it started right on time, though not with Mr. King, but rather with a competent local band that played five songs in about 20 minutes and said goodnight.
Mr. King started about 8:30, but even though the sound was inconsistent with the first group, there was no improvement when the star performed, particularly on his one true classic song, "The Thrill Is Gone." In all, Mr. King, an 87-year-old gift to the music-loving public, performed perhaps 10 songs, partly because of his own long, rambling, tedious and irrelevant monologues introducing his band members before he even started, but mostly because of constant interruption by a seemingly intoxicated 23-year-old woman celebrating her birthday, another woman who had to share a personal and mostly private anecdote with the star and numerous requests shouted from the audience for the star to play a song he does not even sing.
Along with the inconsistent and mostly bad sound, the lights were up for most of the show, perhaps because of Mr. King's age, but we don't know, because they were down at times. Finally, Mr. King was seemingly coerced into performing his signature song out of what was probably a pre-established order and could not regain his control of the show.
This is completely unacceptable. Why was the audience permitted to control the show? Why are disruptive persons tolerated by the Benedum management? This show was a disaster almost from the minute Mr. King walked on the stage, without a single word ever uttered by anyone from the management team. I for one was embarrassed, not to mention defrauded. It was a disgrace. Mr. King was and is a superlative performer, but he was not served well, either by Benedum management, the promoter or his own band leader. I can't imagine what it would take to get me to return there.
It was nice to read of the commercial success of several of the downtown "Pop-Up" venues supported by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and their continuance for another year (3 Downtown pop-up stores plan to stay, Nov. 21).
Attention should also be paid to one of the finest art installations in Pittsburgh history. It also happens to be a "Pop-Up" -- but of an entirely aesthetic nature. "Fraley's Robot Repair," directly opposite the entrance to Heinz Hall, has been a delight to ponder throughout its many restagings during the year.
Unlike the overhyped, banal and conceptually dull effort of something like Martha Rosler's "Meta-Monumental Garage Sale," currently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Mr. Fraley's collection of prime midcentury industrial materials and ephemera are displayed with wit, creativity and originality.
It is not a static composition, and Mr. Fraley has quietly reworked his display repeatedly -- squeezing every nuance out of his materials while always containing them within the absurd concept of a functioning robot repair shop.