Mascot / Provogue (label)
11 June 2021 (released)
09 June 2021
‘Royal Tea’ was, for me, the best album Bonamassa has put out in years – powerful, from the heart and a celebration of British Blues that is better than almost any of the Brits could have managed.
The Ryman is his favourite venue and he had played there many times before this – albeit that he considers this a half gig as there was no audience to give him feedback.
The result? 78 minutes of Joe Bonamassa at his best and your humble reviewer bouncing around the room with a manic grin on his face!
Joe B has been busy for a while but some of the shows and releases felt slightly as though he wasn’t sure of his direction and was ticking off goals while he tried to find out where Joe Bonamassa wanted to go. ‘Royal Tea’ marked Joe Bonamassa rediscovering his soul and the tracks here from that album are simply awesome. He is committed, his playing is from the heart and his vocals have a touch of soul in them – his solos are simply gobsmacking and he is playing riffs again, not just passages.
There are also three tracks from ‘New Day Yesterday’ and the expanded band format really gives them a strong edge.
I’d have to say that there isn’t a weak moment here, although his vocals on opener ‘When One Door Opens’ improve through the song, and a few of the numbers really benefit from him playing live.
‘Lookout Man!’ is especially strong with some great harp and a brilliant solo from Joe.
‘A Conversation With Alice’ – one of my favourites from the album – is extended and really kicks ass: it seems to gain an extra ‘bounce’ from the live treatment.
Rory Gallagher’s ‘Cradle Rock’ is immensely powerful while the set closes on ‘A New Day Yesterday’, originally a Jethro Tull number, but really give the Joe Bonamassa ‘beans’ here.
The show was very special when it was streamed but it comes over even better here – brilliant!