Review: Joe Bonamassa – 'Live At The Greek Theatre'

one of the great dreams in life”, Bonamassa tells the tale of how he used to live close to the venue, and would see all the trailers and tour buses loading in, and think of  “how he was so close but so far away”, joking, “13 years ago, there were more people onstage than in the crowd” before adding, “but 13 years, and almost 30 albums later, here I am”. Almost 30 albums! That’s a phenomenal output that borders on the obsessive. I’m sure that there is another artist out there with a similar track record, but right now, my mind draws a blank. The statistic is all the more impressive, considering that the most recent studio album, ‘Blues Of Desperation’ is one of his best, and recent tours were rightly hailed as legendary. Just imagine though, if he decided to take a year off to catch up on his TV boxsets, people would get worried about him and start a “Save Ferris” campaign… ”Save Joe… he’s been missing for nearly a year now!”. For this tour, Bonamassa paid tribute to the three kings of blues, Freddie, Albert, and of course his mentor and late friend, B.B King. Released across multiple formats, ‘Live At The Greek Theatre’ is a heartfelt and passionate tribute to what is arguably the most passionate genre of music. The show opens with a local TV news feature on Bonamassa at high school, looking like any average Joe (geddit?) in class, before it cuts to footage of him wailing away on his guitar in a club, looking anything but a schoolkid.Backed by “Ten of the greatest musicians in the world” Bonamassa tears through a two hour masterclass of blues… not to mention two hours of guitar porn! For the majority of the set, his beloved Gibson Les Paul takes a back seat, as he goes with the style of guitar that each legend made famous. For the Albert King segment, he goes one step further by actually using King’s famous flying V “Lucy”… a real piece of guitar history loaned to Bonamassa by none other than Steven Seagal, who has one of the most famous guitar collections around today. When he straps on “Lucy” for ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, it truly is a heartwarming moment. The look of joy on his face is priceless. A modern blues icon paying homage to a true blues legend. The guitar porn continues when Bonamassa plugs in a gorgeous fender for B.B King’s ‘Hummingbird’, which features some of the most emotive guitar work that you are likely to hear this year. It’s not just Joe’s show though, as his band are each at the top of their game. Backed by a three piece horn section, as well as three incredible backing vocalists, this is truly a “band” experience. Amongst the ranks of the three Aussie female backing vocalists is Mahalia Barnes, who Bonamassa recorded a stunning album with in 2015. Daughter of Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes, Mahalia has a voice to make the hairs stand on end and. ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, and ‘Ole Time Religion’ are just two examples of how crucial her input is. The remaining band members are no slouches either. The legendary Reese Wynans played keyboards with Stevie Ray Vaughan, bassist Michael Rhodes and drummer Anton Fig are perhaps two of the most respected in their professions, and Kirk Fletcher is widely regarded as one of the greatest modern blues guitarists around today. They all combine to make a magical sound which provides Bonamassa with the foundations to let rip and express himself. The production is crystal clear, as one would expect from long time cohort Kevin Shirley, and if you are pondering over which format to go for, then shell out for the BluRay, as well as the stunning vinyl version. Drop the needle, sit back, and let the music wash over you. Two hours will fly by, as you soak up an album much more than a live recording… it’s a live experience. ‘Live At The Greek Theatre’ is released September 23rd via the Mascot Label Group. Review: Dave Stott]]>

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