By Darell Olson   Published Nov 01, 2004 at 5:19 AM

{image1} Once Buddy Guy took the stage at the beautiful and acoustically perfect Pabst Theater Saturday night, he grabbed the audience and did not let go.

Backed by a very tight and smokin' five-piece band, he ran through hits by some of the blues giants, including BB King, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker. He also covered a Bill Withers tune, "Use Me" that showcased his bandmates' talents.

But what most wanted to hear were the hardcore blues tunes Guy has made famous.

He did not let us down with blistering licks and a few snapped guitar strings to almost inaudible finger-picked notes. Raw vocals that were charged with soul, going from one octave to another at will, not bad for someone closing in on 70.

At one point during a solo he bolted from the stage and continued up the aisle into the lobby, never missing a beat and giving the crowd an even better chance to get close and personal.

It was close to a sell-out crowd, with the majority being middle-age white folks. What pleased me most was the number of youngsters that accompanied their parents to get a glimpse of what influenced most of the music we hear today.

It's a shame this music cannot be heard on the airwaves in a town our size; thankfully we have college radio station WMSE to give us blues at least 18 hours a week.

A raucous one hour and 45 minutes later it came to an end, without a song being played from "Sweet Tea," Guy's 2001 release. Albeit somewhat short, the show was well worth the price of admission. And if Guy does not come back for an encore performance next year it might not be a bad idea to make the trip to Chicago and catch his act at Buddy Guy's Legends (754 S. Wabash Ave.)