Only a handful of years ago I too was a Bonamassa detractor; ‘not getting’ his style and why he had legions of fans who would sell a lung to purchase a ticket for one of his shows.
Yet I think I am being worn down by his continues onslaught of releases and I may just be becoming a ‘fan’.
Most artists only release live albums when they are going through some kind of ‘creative block;’ not Joe Bonamassa…..he just keeps getting great ideas for a themed tour and then releasing the obligatory tour documentary to his ever hungry; and ever growing fan base.
Knowing a little about his history I guess it was only a matter of time before Joe actually made an album of songs by Albert, Freddie and of course BB King; all three of whom he has waxed lyrical over the years and from whom his style of playing was originally based on.
While this concert is being released as a double CD and Triple LP, I’m actually reviewing the DVD, but the songs are all exactly the same.
The DVD opens with the famed TV footage of schoolboy Joe playing alongside the Master and BB saying what a talent the lad has; but fr me I loved the sequence of the slightly precocious kid in class…..thank the Lord there is no similar footage of me at that age. Bonamassa is a brave man showing this at the beginning of the DVD.
With no physical intro the concert opens with a scintillating version of Freddie King’s See See Baby which owes a lot to the original; but like everything else here JB puts his own inimitable stamp on every note.
The usual suspects make up Bonamassa’s amazing band, with the addition of an amazing trio of female backing singers who can harmonise like angels; but belt out a chorus like the Devil is behind them when necessary too.
To some degree the concert/album comes in two parts with the first half rolling along very nicely indeed; with Going Down and I Get Evil being stand out track; but once JB and band tear into Let the Good Times Roll the party really gets started, with JB and band proving that individually they are all expert musicians but collectively……there may not be anyone today who can match them! (Discuss)
One of the latter highlights is the lesser known BB King song Nobody Loves Me But My Mother; where JB really, really shows what a great guitarist he is and the girls behind him very, nearly steal the show with their soulful interactions.
But; surprise surprise, the best is kept for last with JB’s voice never sounding finer than on Born Under a Bad Sign which meticulously leads into a brave reworking of The Thrill Is Gone…..which takes nothing away from the masterpiece of the original; but pays homage to a man who taught many of us what the Blues is and where it came from.
I’m not sure if it’s the editing; I doubt it but there is next to no interaction between songs apart from when Bonamassa thanks everyone for attending the show and why he is so thrilled to finally play the iconic venue after only 13 albums and 30 years, despite living close by!
As expected there is a bonus DVD featuring an interview with his proud parents, a warts n all behind the scenes documentary and my favourite thing here (but I’m a photo geek!) a look at Christie Goodwin’s photos documenting the event.
Released September 23rd 2016