27th October 2015
Tonight, Bluesdoodles is in the heart of Cardiff for Joe Bonamassa at The Motorpoint visiting the twelfth European country on his current world tour. Expectations were high as the 4000 strong audience sat on the edges of their seats waiting to hear the Bonamassa blues guitar. The stage was minimal no banners or movie backdrop it was a simple curtain and industrial steel with an array of lights. The lighting was skillfully used throughout the show from deep blue to shocking reds, mauves and turquoise the attention though was all about the guitar playing that needed no embellishment.
The lights went dark and the announcement was an apology the show you were expecting tonight One Direction is cancelled… so in their place we bring Joe Bonamassa the Welsh audience always loud took the roof off before a note was played. Tuesday night and the guitar fireworks were ready to go off in the arena the capital city was alive with the sound of Joe B! and his extraordinary band creating a sound full of textures and every shade of blue weaved through the melodies.
The band is so very special and throughout the night they had moments in the spotlight and at other times gave the perfect tonal backdrop for the cascading licks, riffs and the space for Joe to find room for the vocals on the songs, some familiar and others we heard live for the first time including Love Ain’t A Love Song, the superb track from his current live album, Live At Radio City Music Hall, having first been aired on Different Shades of Blue; it is always special hearing the music live as it develops an energy all of its own.
Tonight we had a horn section that was brash and mellow; sharp and smooth Lee Thornberg, trumpet, and Paulie Cerra on saxophone a rhythm section that set the backline afire with inspired and powerful drumming from Anton Fig – what a sound he developed built up and quietened down creating a torrent of beats for the band to explore. The second half setting down the rhythm is bassist, Micheal Rhodes whose deep full sound was wonderful and on Organ, keys and grand piano Reese Wynans pulled out the stops, tinkled the ivories to create chords that swelled and moved across the auditorium. Then out front stage centre, stage left, stage right and up close to the other musicians was the guitar maestro himself Joe Bonamassa.
The music rocked with influences of British rock guitarists from the 60’s and this combined with a thick and concentrated vast vein of blues creates a sound that is modern and rooted in the past and is instantly recognized as pure golden blues from the guitars of Joe Bonamassa. Tonight there was no acoustic it was electric courtesy of Fenders and Gibsons. Every song had a special place in the set that worked and delighted the Cardiff crowds, including his memories of playing at a much smaller and now sadly no more venue The Point and his quip he was paying the horn section with the local ale from Brains Brewery. Joe noted that the Welsh were a raucous crowd and that just made them louder. A spectacular light show added another layer of drama to the opening for the number Hey Baby. The sublime Trumpet solo entranced invoking a sound from big bands back to a sleazy 1920’s Speakeasy, Happier Times also had booming drumming and guitar work that flowed and shone with the six strings vibrating with an energy that lit the hall – who needs lights! Followed by Trouble Town and delicious slide the sound was spellbinding.
The crowds were delighted with a double helping of Joe B favourites, Sloe Gin tonight more considered, slower with a sorrowful tinge and the Ballad of John Henry which tells such a story and the fretwork was on fire and full of the heat and determination just as John Henry must have shown winning the wager.
All too soon it was the end but, we had and encore All Aboard with the feel of journeys railways and upbeat, tonight Cardiff was entranced, delighted and on fire after over two hours of guitar playing this is truly fretboard manipulation of breathtaking proportions.
There was a relaxed energy from Joe tonight the best I have ever seen him in an arena environment I have come late to the party but tonight live in Cardiff I was converted to Joe Bonamassa and his guitar show.
See See Baby
Never Make Your Too Soon
Angel of Mercy
Gave Up Everything
Breaking Up Someone’s Home
Love Ain’t A Love Song
Ballad of John Henry