Most people will catch Joe Bonamassa Live in Austin Texas this time sat at home on a sofa/settee or couch staring at a screen, the portal to the wider world for over a year now. The count down and then the intro is an attempt to build tension that heady whiff of venue odour, anticipation and sharing a pre-show drink with friends.
This is a different Joe Bonamassa Show, socially distant and with the chance to watch it at a time that suits you. Like many I did not watch this ‘live’. Yes, I could have stayed up and watched it at 2am – but this digital fix of live music means choice. You can choose when/where/how you enjoy the live music stream. (Once a ticket is purchased you can watch the show as many times as you like for the next thirty days) Is this a plus? For me No – yes, my settee was comfy, the glass of wine delicious. Yes, no need to go out into the night and travel to the venue no parking nightmares. But the negatives out way the positives. The show had no live energy that could seep into the lounge, the atmosphere was sterile. It did not take me somewhere else as the thought the carpet needs a vacuum stole its way into my brain. Like so many I miss the live show in a venue.
Now on to the music for two hours we were treated to superb blues guitar from Joe B. He was on fire as he was surrounded (socially distant from his band going back to his roots a Power Trio. Anton Fig (Drums), legendary bass player Steve Mackey (bass) plus Jade McCrae (Singer)
The setlist of fourteen numbers including originals and covers were played by the band and selected as fans favourites. Yes, the fans spoke, and this was the setlist designed by them.
The night opened with Oh Beautiful! From Different Shades of Blue. His suit tonight as he played Austin City Limits was replaced by a Black Cowboy style suit with sparkling blue embroidery. The opening with Jade upfront created the feel of the holler duet of call and reply, with Figs cymbals adding a tumbling crescendo. Then the band opens up and the power of the trio is revealed, they were intent on entertaining us tonight. After a delicious foray into his six-string magic, the holler returns to close out the opening number. How I wanted to be upfront clapping and cheering. Love Ain’t a Love song seamlessly joined Oh Beautiful as they did on the album. Pure electric joy. The music now was beginning to weave its siren call and my reality was now the stage in faraway Texas in a different time-zone.
The first of the four covers tonight Midnight Blues as Joe Bonamassa evokes the spirit of Gary Moore.
Opening with a growl from the Fender bass we are bought up to date with Lookout Man! from Royal Tea and British Blues Explosion is harnessed. The stage is heating up and the music flows with a driving energy that gives your foot tapping foot a workout. The guitar breaks are electric, and the added growl of the bass break gives a tonal texture that is spellbinding.
The show is captivating as you are absorbed into the screen, and the speakers turned up another notch surround the room in a glorious sound. As we get a second cup of Royal Tea with a long track Beyond The Silence. A track that works so well on a stage. They layers are explored and amplified. This slower number has a stormy beat and rhythmic tones that harmonise creating a number that will never feel tired.
The music plays on if you did not catch the live stream, Joe B announced that a DVD would be following. More to add to your music library at home.
We are taken back to the early days and his first band Bloodlines. His first girlfriend and the hurt of the relationship going nowhere, Miss You, Hate You recorded on his first self-titled album Miss You, Hate You. This included in the set lists shows how many fans have travelled the journey through Joe’s music from the early days until now. This is a gentle song that flows and fitted perfectly into the show tonight.
There is no doubt about his prowess on the guitar he is a conjurer of the six-strings, just listen to Scuttle Buttin,’ his vocals just get better and better as demonstrated throughout the show tonight ad especially on the outstanding rendition of Jeff Beck’s Blues De Luxe. He makes it his own.
He closes out the show with Ballad of John Henry the perennial favourite and had to be on a set list chosen by the fans.
His two-number encore bought the show to a close as he took us way back to the Crossroads courtesy of Robert Johnson. This was two hours twenty-five minutes of music joy.
Thank you for the live show at home Mr. Joe Bonamassa.
Joe Bonamassa has many naysayers but in my honest opinion he can make the guitar, sing, growl, entertain, capturing and twisting the blues. The sound makes goosebumps on my goosebumps as your spine tingles with six-string delights. To have been part of the audience tonight 1st April 2021 must have made a memory to last a lifetime.
Bonamassa has been working hard to raise money for musicians affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The Fuelling Musicians program is an emergency relief fund designed to support musicians by providing immediate cash payments for essential living expenses of $1,500 to help them stay afloat and get back on the road again when it is safe. To date, they have raised over $380,000 and distributed the money to over 230 artists. In fact, they are getting checks delivered to some folks who have yet to even receive their support from the government stimulus. As someone who has spent most of his life on the road, Joe knows the clear and evident impact of the crisis on his entertainment community. For those interested in donating, visit HERE.
Love Ain’t a Love Song
Midnight Blues (Gary Moore)
Beyond The Silence
Jockey Full of Bourbon (Tom Waits)
Pain and Sorrow
Miss You, Hate You
Scuttle Buttin’ (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble)
Blues De Luxe (Jeff Beck)
Ballad of John Henry
Woke Up Dreaming
Cross Road Blues (Robert Johnson)