Tonight, Joe Bonamassa opening his UK tour with a mix of jetlag and experiencing for the first time in 2018 playing on dry land. The Motorpoint Arena was ready and waiting and Joe B and his stupendous band delivered with fifteen deliciously tasty helpings of blues.
Joe Bonamassa did not seem jetlagged, he was pumped to deliver a night that will be etched on the musical antenna of everyone who had a seat tonight in Cardiff. Joe B was full of energy, confidence and the pure delight to be bringing his band to Cardiff once again. This was reflected in the inclusion early on in the set of new numbers which will be on the new album due out later this year. Opening with King Bee Shakedown he hit the ground running with this rousing rockin’ and rolling number a real musical charge to make sure everyone one was sitting up in their seats revelling in the cascading riffs and licks from the Bonamassa guitar. His band around him were having fun from the horn section of the fabulous duo of Lee Thornberg and Paulie Cerra the renowned blues Saxophonist the dancing and tremendous backing duo from Australia Jade McRae & Juanita Tippins. Now into the mix and the compelling mix of drumming that is powerful and subtle, exquisite playing of the top hat as ever Anton Fig’s sticks and brushes ruled from the back. Adding to the rhythm and groove was bassist Michael Rhodes and magician on the keyboards Reese Wynans. The band that Joe surrounds himself with have been playing with him for years and tonight’s performance showed that this stability creates an innate understanding of the music and how to make Joe’s guitar and vocals buzz with vibrancy.
The set was a mix of something new, a lot of blue and something old. What had gone from the set-list and will be missed by many, despite the rising demand and popularity for gin, was that tonight Joe decided to drop Tim Curry’s Sloe Gin from the cabinet of songs.
The new tracks from the off led to some confusion as people thought I don’t know these, for me, it is always exciting to hear the music live before the studio version arrives. Just Cause You Can and Self-Inflicted Wounds are a pair of strong new Bonamassa numbers.
From his album Live at The Greek Theatre a tribute to the three Kings, his interpretations of Breaking Up Someone’s Home & I Get Evil had the crowds tapping their feet in time with the glorious blues, sharp exciting and entertaining.
The pair of numbers from Blues of Desperation worked well live. No Good Place For The Lonely with its confident driving beat and the change of the backdrop from red to deep blue and back to red added to the drama of the show. The number delivered in perfect harmony down to the matching Gibson Thunderbirds, guitar and bass creating a wonderful sound that reverberated around the arena. With a quick change of guitars How Deep This River Flows a number replete with delectable Bonamassa riffs and guitar fireworks. The long instrumental extravaganza once again making the show so much more than a guitar lead break. The keys danced through the melody and the horns a sting to the tail. Adding to the sparkling live rendition the horns and backing vocals filling out the sound in the arena.
Going back-in-time with Slow Train and Driving Towards the Daylight the arena was alive with pure musical joy. No longer could we sit as we wanted to Boogie with Stu along with Joe and his band. Closing with Led Zepplin’s How Many More Times reflecting his tour celebrating British Blues and forthcoming live album.
With the mix of instruments and the celebration of Joe B’s guitar playing that was gritty, harmonious and above all steeped in blues tones of every shade. We wanted more, plenty of whoops, cheers and We Love You, Joe, bought the band back on stage for one final song for Cardiff tonight. Closing the night of fabulous live music with Hummingbird, a favourite number of Joe to play live and left the audience very satisfied as we stepped out of the arena with our heads full of riffs, and licks that Joe Bonamassa shared with us tonight courtesy of his dancing fingers over the six-strings.
King Bee Shakedown
Just Cause You Can
I Get Evil
No Good Place for the Lonely
How Deep This River Runs
Breaking Up Someone’s Home
Driving Towards the Daylight
Boogie With Stu
How Many More Times