DVD Review: Joe Bonamassa ~ Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks

joe b dvdJoe Bonamassa
Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks
Mascot Label Group

Joe Bonamassa has a live recording a tribute to Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters, available in a plethora of formats, Double CD or 2 DVD, Blu-ray or 3 X Vinyl the choice is yours so no reason not to purchase Joe Bonamassa ~ Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks.
Enough technical stuff, what about the concert at Red Rocks with its spectacular backdrop and 9,000 people come to see and hear Joe Bonamassa and his superb band pay homage to two of the blues greats, whilst knowing the money from ticket sales went to Joe Bonamassa’s charity keeping The Blues Alive keeping heritage of the blues alive through promotion, scholarships and is supplementing the loss of music education in public schools in the USA. The first DVD is dedicated to the concert itself and has three sets with their own distinctive sound, Muddy Waters, starts the concert off then a Howling Wolf set and finishing with his own music.

So what about the music, the concert? There is no argument that the backdrop and size of the crowd to hear Joe play the blues was awe-inspiring as Joe and his band set out to entertain with his six-strings to the fore. Joe Bonamassa delivers, his fans will be delighted, with this showcasing of modern electric blues and he will have won a few more fans, I have never been the biggest fan of Joe’s style he seems to cram a note to many into every guitar lead break and his voice simply is not good enough. This DVD is a re-invention of Joe and I must admit the vocals have greater depth and power and he is definitely enjoying himself fronting the band who have all played on various occasions in a backing band, tonight it has the feel of a big band with Anton Fig (drums), Michael Rhodes (bass), this duo have created a rhythm section that gives Joe the platform to unleash his guitar with all its throttles burning up the notes. Reese Wynans (piano & Hammond) and then the horn section wow they add some style to the sound the arrangements by trumpeter Lee Thornburg and superb, the rest of the horn section are Ron Dziubla (saxophone) and Nick Lane (Trombone). Keeping the blues authentic is harmonica by Nick Lane and then guitarist Kirk Fletcher whose playing is measured and cool and gives Joe another layer of sound.

This is a powerful set with every track placed for a reason, as ever Joe has left nothing to chance opening with Tiger In Your Tank, with old footage it is the music that does the talking Joe picks up the beat and blues soars out across the auditorium with the sounds lingering on the air as they fade into the open land beyond the rocks. It is great to see Joe delivering less on the guitar and more on the vocals and he creates the feeling of Chicago Blues, delivered with care and the shape of the blues has a dexterity and authenticity. The set is littered with gems of musicianship Real Love, My Home is On The Delta was played with passion and as with other tracks not only Joe up front but also the disciplined Rhythm guitar playing of Kirk Fletcher keeping the rhythm going allowing the vocals to dictate and the guitar magic of JB to glisten and sparkle a great combination of guitar sounds.

Above all throughout the DVD, Joe’s passion for the music he is playing shines through both in the delivery of the vocals and the guitar both are being given equal weight creating a perfect Chicago Blues storm. The lead breaks are controlled and undoubtedly excite the crowd as he delivers a medley of Spoonful, Killing Floor and Evil a triplet of jeweled treats. I would have loved to have seen a bit more interaction between Joe and the band as they were playing in harmony and enjoying putting on a show of music that delighted the crowds and will live on delighting the fans of Joe Bonamassa who can have a concert in their own homes. With the last part of the concert the Joe Bonamassa tracks we love including Sloe Gin which he has made his own and the Ballad of John Henry.

The second DVD is full of ‘the extra’s’ Making of The CD, a road trip ( loved it if this had incorporated the music of Howlin and Muddy and their life’s story) which at times for me seemed rather random and self-indulgent rather than promoting the originality and roots of these two greats the concert was in tribute too! We saw Joe visiting the mythical crossroads and meeting a random man who had no idea who Joe was, made me smile and rather glad he kept it in as it showed a human humble side that is not always visible when he is strutting the stage. We had a chance to do some touristy stuff without leaving the house a visit to Beale Street and some museums.

This DVD is for those who like to watch their music where as the CD format is for those who like to just have the listening experience at home, much of the music played may be owned by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, but here Joe has borrowed the mantle of Chicago Blues and wears it well.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Track Listing
Muddy Waters Set
Intro Mississippi Heartbeat
1. Tiger In Your Tank
2. I Can’t Be Satisfied
3. You Shook Me
4. Stuff You Gotta Watch
5. Double Trouble
6. Real Love
7. My Home Is On The Delta
8. All Aboard
Howlin’ Wolf set:
1. How Many More Years
2. Shake For Me
3. Hidden Charms
i. Band and Introductions
ii. Spoonful
iii. Killing Floor
iv. Evil (is going on)
v. All Night Boogie (all night long)
Joe Bonamassa Set
1. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
2. Oh Beautiful
3. Love Ain’t A Love Song
4. Sloe Gin
5. Ballad of John Henry
6. Muddy Wolf Credits

Extra’s:

1. Joe and Kevin’s excellent adventure …. To the crossroads
2. Behind the rocks – an exclusive view behind the scenes
3. The originals – historic footage from Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf
4. Rockagram gallery

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