Just witnessed your
best live gig?.. send us a review!
BONAMASSA Hammersmith Apollo, London
Noel Buckley (except where indicated)
Photo Gallery by Christie Goodwin
He may be
the 'Classic Rock Breakthrough Artist of 2009' but tonight guitar hero
Joe Bonamassa stuck squarely with the blues. It was a brave decision
given and the size of the venue and his rumoured forthcoming rock
project with Glenn Hughes etc. But when you are a technically gifted
guitarist bristling with confidence and fronting a top class band you
don't deal in doubts but only with the potential triumphs in filling a
landmark rock venue full of your fans.
In fact Joe
is many things to many people, the polar opposite of some of his ego
driven one dimensional musical contemporaries. He is a guitar hero for
the new rock/blues generation as well as a major stylistic influence.
And in a broader context he is also a commercial barometer of the times.
as he belatedly explained this was 'the biggest crowd I've played to'.
And with that in mind he had obviously paid due attention with
thoughtful pre planning.
was an elaborate stage set comprising an illuminated back drop with two
relatively unused descending walkways and an adjoining gantry. The
latter was sparingly used for a trademark solo, an occasional strutting
rock pose (albeit in a silver suit and shades) and a cursory sweep of
the hand over his theramin.
there were two plinths situated right and left at the front of the
stage, both judiciously used with military precision before he returned
centre stage as a one man blues rock powerhouse in front of a musically
excellent but very static band.
And if there
was a minor reservation about tonight's exhilarating show it was simply
that one man can only do so much. And given the slightly muddy sound mix
in the first third of the show it was left to Joe's instinctive ability
to conjure up light and shade through a range of tone colours and
incisive soloing on 'So Many Roads' and the piercing riffs and pounding
beat of the slow blues 'If Heartaches Were Nickels', to soar above the
improved noticeably on 'Sloe Gin', another song on which he showed
himself to be the master of dynamics. And having achieved base camp, he
pulled an unlikely rabbit out of the hat by premising a cover of Tull's
'New Day Yesterday' by introducing the song's author, Jethro Tull's Ian
Christie Goodwin/ Gallery
choice this, as Anderson should surely be revered not just for his
showmanship and flautism but also for predating Joe's recycling of the
blues by three decades.
event, they alternated verses and while Ian blew, waved, pranced and
even very briefly stood on one leg, it was the duo's interplay that
brought a real emotional moment to the evening.
subsequent cover of Tull's 'Locomotive Breath' included barely one verse
before the solos and saw Ian hamming things up a little, but - hell -
after 40 years as one of rock's senior statesmen he probably had every
Joe chose to dip back into his penultimate 'Ballad of John Henry' album
for both 'Lonesome Road Blues' and the mellifluous groove and Dave
Gilmour style guitar of another highlight 'Happier Times'.
was a wise move to steer clear of the big Zeppelin style production
moments of 'Black Rock', but it wasn't long before the Jimmy Page
influenced 'Blue & Evil' redressed the balance.
slipped the guitar motif from 'Dazed & Confused' into the closing 'Just
Got Paid' as if to hammer home his central musical reference point.
Given such a preponderance of classic rock and blues influences in Joe's
music you can almost feel he's tapping into the kind of collective
unconscious of the first wave of The British Blues invasion that cements
his crowds sense of expectation.
In fact any
semblance of the unconscious was blown asunder by an unexpected and
abrasive reading of The Who's version of Mose Allison's 'Young Man
No 'When The
Fire Hits The Sea' or 'Quarryman's Lament' then, but more than enough
'good stuff' to send his adoring fans home happy via an extremely busy
Last time it
was the grandeur of the Albert Hall, this time the legendary Hammersmith
Odeon turned Apollo, but whatever the context or venue Joe seems more
than happy and more than capable of delivering.
by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Noel Buckley (except where indicated)
Photo Gallery by Christie Goodwin
Album review and video interview
Bonamassa Special and interview on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday
30 May 22:00 GMT+1
|Print this page in printer-friendly format
|Tell a friend about this page