Joe Bonamassa Playing on Dry Land In Cardiff

Joe Bonamassa Playing on Dry Land In Cardiff

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.


Set List
King Bee Shakedown
Evil Mama
Just Cause You Can
Self-Inflicted Wounds
I Get Evil
No Good Place for the Lonely
How Deep This River Runs
Breaking Up Someone’s Home
Slow Train
Driving Towards the Daylight
Boogie With Stu
Last Kiss
How Many More Times



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Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation

Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation

Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation


There is a definite blues scent of originality within the latest album, Blues of Desperation, from Joe Bonamassa. The whole album takes on a journey through the geography of the blues as the album explores the physical landscape of rivers, mountains and valleys by train. Other tracks explore emotional blues of love lost, misery and desperation. The eleven original tracks have a depth and musical arrangements that augment and add a wisdom to the lyrics. Building on his last studio recording Different Shades of Blue.

The opening track This Train gets the journey underway with a raw rhythm and curling guitar riff that mimics the movement of a train moving along the tracks with purpose and determination. The instrumentation at times is muted allowing vocals and lyrics to drive the soul of the album as on Mountain Climbing. This builds with backing vocal and guitar that grinds reflecting the struggles of the poor working man. The track is poignant and relevant for life today as in the historical context of the track just replace toiling in the fields with toiling in the factory or office! Where will we be taken next as swampy guitar sounding more Latin than Southern Rock we are off for a drive with a swing in our hips. The drive is a solution to stress as Joe B’s vocals sooth and ‘put on an old blues song. And let our troubles be gone Lets Drive”.

Nearly half way into the album and the journey takes up deep into the Blues of Desperation. The guitar is full of pleading and the low feeling of desperation, the drum beat is harsh and enduring like your brain whirling when desperation is like staring into an abyss of tears. The track is a sonic description of the emotional rollercoaster you feel when you are desperate, have now where to turn. Through the miasma whirl of instruments there is a touch of the east with Joe’s vocals a track dripping with honest emotion as it fades away. Phew! After all the emotion we take another return with the first single of the album The Valley Runs Low. The beat opens up and the tempo has a lightness and the backing vocals make this country fueled blues ditty flow from the speakers.

The urban blues and the electric guitar puts you in a spin for You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill and the Blues, the way we have come to know through albums and live shows. This album ain’t leaving us there, no the next station is Distant Lonesome Train. There is a real urgency and the drums beat out the feeling of the album as we explore the lonesome trail. The driving guitar and keys gives the Lonesome Train a real intensity.

With horns and an easy feel Livin’ Easy takes us back to the time of speakeasies and is redolent of the last in the structure of the melody. Like the rest of the album this penultimate track fits in perfectly. Closing with What I’ve Known For A Long Time a blues number that curls around the journey Joe has shared with you through his music for over an hour. Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation has hit upon a winning blues drenched formula of delights. Why, the tonal context of plugging into a Fender amp and using the power of his fingers on the six-strings creates a rhythmical sound that drives Bonamassa on an exciting road of twenty-first century blues.

The album is eleven tracks that are about more than the considerable guitar skills of Grammy nominated Joe B. It is about how music and blues-rock musicians reflect back to listeners experiences they can connect to. Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation has created an album that is drenched in the blues and is a mature reflection of urban twenty-first century blues.

There is a swaggering attitude throughout that adds not a smugness to the production but assuredness of an album that is complete. This is the first time Bluesdoodles has given Joe Bonamassa a 10 this is an inspired album that hit my blues-spot. This is a new approach more muted deeper tones, the result a powerful statement an album with direction and purpose.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….


Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation – Mascot Record Label/Provogue Out 25th March 2016

Track Listing

1. This Train
2. Mountain Climbing
3. Drive
4. No Good Place For The Lonely
5. Blues of Desperation
6. The Valleys Run Low
7. You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill And The Blues
8. Distant Lonesome Train
9. How deep Does This River Run
10. Livin’ Easy
11. What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time


Some Facts and then a video for you…

Bonamassa and his long-time producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Journey) convened at Nashville’s Grand Victor Sound Studios (formerly known as RCA Studio A), and during an intense, five-day period they recorded 11 galvanizing songs with a crack group of musicians including drummers Anton Fig and Greg Morrow, bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist Reese Wynans, horn players Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra and Mark Douthit, and background singers Mahalia Barnes, Jade McRae and Juanita Tippins.