From the darkness, a glimpse of a gold-top guitar harnessed on a suited, sunglasses-wearing rock star emerged. Bonamassa did something unusual to start his show. The set began with a number of new tracks from his not-yet-released album that’s due out in September. “King Bee Shakedown”, “Evil Mama”, “Just ‘Cause You Can” and “Self Inflicted Wounds” smashed into the world of heavy southern blues. Gospel backing harmonies flew over trademark blues tones which must have made any long term fan of his salivate to hear more of Joe Bonamassa’s newest accomplishment. The songs sat well with the rest of his material and didn’t feel out of place. He has stuck with what he knows best. And what he knows is nothing but world class.
“Self-Inflicted Wounds” gave more show time to keys and brass section with Joe being able to relax and soak in the atmosphere, striking accented chords, relishing in what he has created – a round of call and response perfectly executed across the board. It was around this time where I really noticed just how fluent he was on stage. An example of frankly ridiculous playing and blues riffing full of heavily emotive, soul capturing euphony would travel out across the crowd, meanwhile, Bonamassa would reach back to his centre stage microphone and jump straight onto vocals without skipping a beat or missing a breath. It fails me sometimes to understand how he doesn’t get swept up in the moment. There are a million guitarists who do.
The slow locomotive rhythm of “Slow Train” came in with a crash and allowed Joe Bonamassa to show not only his already established guitar skills, but also how much he can really sing with power and conviction. It was “How Many More Times” where a delicacy was displayed with his instrument. Poised and composed, the clean tone was tapped, scrapped and moulded to create an almost euphoric piece before cutting and hammering to distorted, big band harmonious stabs which ended with the audience seeing the most flamboyant stage stances of the night with Bonamassa stretching the guitar neck high into the air calling for the crowd to engage.
Reviewer: Paul Mason
Photographer: Andy Archer