Review: Joe Bonamassa – Austin City Limits

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Taste, ZZ Top. All prime examples of the blues-rock power trio. Heavy blues stripped to its essentials of guitar, bass, and drums for maximum effect!

It’s April the 1st and Joe Bonamassa has assembled a blues-rock power trio for a special streamed live event but this ain’t no joke. Coming live from the fabled Austin City Limits stage in Texas and streamed live around the world, Joe is using this opportunity to raise some dosh for musicians affected by the covid-19 pandemic, unable to work due to travel restrictions and bans on live events.

This is the 2nd live event Joe has streamed having done one with a full-sized band last year, however, this time Joe is playing to a very lucky socially distanced human audience compared to the cardboard cut-outs used for the last gig. Despite this being a power trio, Joe, along with Steve Mackey on bass and Anton Fig on drums, is joined by Jade MacRae on backing vocals and all-important tambourine.

Opening with “Oh, Beautiful”, the two-and-a-half hour concert showcases Joe’s heavier, riffier songs, and being a power trio it allows him to stretch out more for those extended guitar solos of which there are plenty. The guitar tone coming from Joe’s vintage Fender Esquire is utterly monstrous on “Lookout Man” and something you’d likely expect from a Les Paul. During “Pain and Sorrow” Joe makes his Stratocaster howl and squeal with feedback conjuring up the spirit of Jimi Hendrix as he twists and wrangles with his axe, all before bring it down to a barely audible whisper. “Miss you, Hate You” is given its original title of “Miss You, Fuck You” for tonight’s performance and is accompanied by the story behind the song. Personally, for me the biggest highlight of this show was Joe announcing “What I’m about to do takes balls” before launching into Austin, Texas legend Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Scuttle Buttin’. Anyone who knows the song will understand how tricky this blues juggernaut is to play (it’s a real finger twister) but naturally Bonamassa pulls it off flawlessly.

The camera work and direction are excellent for a live broadcast show and you get up close and personal with the band for all the sweaty blues rock goodness. This show like all JB shows is really eye and ear candy for serious fans of vintage guitars and dazzling playing, If you’re reading this chances are you haven’t bought your ticket yet but don’t worry, you have till the end of the month to get a chance to see this one-off concert. It may not be as good as being at a real live show but at least you can pause it to go for a piss.

Streaming/ticketing information, here.

Review – Colin Plumb

Photo credit – Allison Morgan.

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