REVIEW: Joe Bonamassa, BIC, Bournemouth; “Every time I have seen him, the performance level has been elevated to new heights”
Joe has come a long way since the first gigs at Mr Kyps and others in the UK around 2005, and the thankyou gig he promised Kyp he would do ten years later.
He is now a true rock legend, selling out huge arenas all over the world. The shows have got bigger but the pure emotion and virtuosity of Joe’s playing has remained constant. He is a joy to experience.
Any Joe Bonamassa show is definitely a case of the total being greater than the sum of the parts!
It is all about the event rather than any guitar solo, of which there are many, or any individual song Joe brought his four-piece band, two backing singers and massive stage show to the sold-out BIC on Tuesday night as part of the English leg of his European tour.
Right from the opening number ‘Evil Mama’ with LedZep-alike drum intro, he had the audience where he wanted them. It seems every track has been hand-picked for maximum delighting effect.
The slower ‘Dust Bowl’ from the album of the same name swiftly followed. Although (arguably!) Joe hasn’t got such a distinctive voice as have other legends, his vocals perfectly complement his playing and as I intimated earlier it is all about the show.
Back then to the expected Blues numbers with ‘Self Inflicted Wounds’ and ‘The Heart That Never Waits’. Although every song is enthusiastically received and known by the die-hard fans, I could hear the extra edge of crowd appreciation reserved for the out and out Blues numbers.
Joe’s backing band must get a mention, they are all superb musicians and in true side-man style never attempt to steal the limelight but are nevertheless indispensable. The backing singers certainly complement Joe’s voice, increasing the dynamic range and depth of his vocal sound. They of course have their own parts to sing, not just backing Joe, during which we can hear why he chose them. The drum solo was a part I particularly enjoyed due to the skill, variety, and showmanship on display.
We all had a sing-song for Joe’s birthday, which although being the day before, he was unable to enjoy due to travelling from the continent at the time.
After a couple of cover tracks, back to the blue-rocker ‘Conversation with Alice’, which easily got the audience clapping and rocking along.
The (almost) Vaudeville-sounding ‘Lonely Boy’ was the penultimate track from the main set, which got everyone on their feet.
A ZZ Top cover ‘Just Got Paid’ was the track to close the main set, where Joe’s incredible virtuosity was brought to the fore and any doubts about his guitar ability were firmly banished to Room 101. Even at over 12 minutes this song was so memorable, incorporating a whole chunk of Led Zep’s ‘Dazed and Confused’. I am sure Jimmy would be happy with Joe’s treatment of it, even without the violin bow solo. This was the opportunity for all the band members to play solos again, the highlight for me being the drummer!
The inevitable encore was ‘Mountain Time’. Veering towards a power ballad, it brought the show to a perfect swaying close, complete with phone-light appreciation.
Joe Bonamassa delivered a masterclass in performance for his grateful acolytes at the BIC and summing up, I could say the evening was simply a celebration of the guitar solo.
Every time I have seen him, the performance level has been elevated to new heights.
Like everyone else there, I struggle to think of suitable superlatives for Joe’s performance – so I wont try!
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