I have long been a follower of Joe Bonamassa’s career. From his early days as a 3 piece playing scuzzy London pubs and progressing through to residencies at the Royal Albert Hall, I’ve seen him live more than a dozen times and reviewed more than a dozen studio and live albums by the man. And I have to say that this may be the best live set he has ever put out and I wish to hell that I had been there for this one.
This is Joe Bonamassa experimenting, opening himself up to new influences and coupling that with the innate Bluesman who has been wowing his audience for over 20 years. The full big band, including horns and backing vocals, even strings, and yet, even with Hall Of Famers winners such as Reese Wynans in the band, he takes centre stage and the music pours out from him. In this format he should sound constrained by having to fit his playing into defined cues and timings but he sounds free and his play is unrestrained and oh so fluid
The set mainly contains numbers from his ‘Time Clocks’ album plus a dynamite version of ‘Evil Mama’ as an encore, and from the opening monologue that leads into ‘Notches’ the listener is transported to a place of rhythm and melody, a world far away from the mundane and ordinary. When music is this good, it becomes a transitionary vehicle, a path to a better place.
There are a lot of new elements to the music this time around – he has hints of Tuareg Trance Blues and Spanish Flamenco informing his Blues and it feels completely natural and free flowing. But at the heart is Joe Bonamassa striding the stage like a colossus and ripping out riffs and solos and just being the ‘Man In The Suit’ that people have been enjoying for years.