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Joe Bonamassa

Artist: Joe Bonamassa

Venue: London, The Royal Albert Hall

Date: 05th April 2024

"A brilliant evening’s entertainment and an absolute belter of a performance from not only Bonamassa but the rest of his amazing band too."

Photo © Simon Green
Photo © Simon Green

This was my first time at the RAH. It is a very iconic venue, although the inside was a bit smaller than I envisaged having seen it so many times on the TV etc. Although the floor space is smaller than I thought it would be, the height of the building blew me away. It is incredibly high and the people at the very top seats in the building can hardly be seen from floor level. Tonight, as it was the previous night, was sold out. These concerts celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of Bonamassa’s first appearance at the RAH in 2009.

The evening started promptly at 19.30, with the intro music being ‘Soul Finger’ by The Bar-Ks. Those of us that used to listen to Emperor Roscoe on Radio One in the late sixties, would recognise it as the theme music to his radio programme. The band then came onto the stage. Bonamassa, as always, was suited and booted, and the two backing vocalists looked stunning in very sparkly outfits. The opening song was ‘Hope You Realize It’, a Funky Blues song from his latest album ‘Blues Deluxe Vol. 2’. The sound from where I was sitting on the side was excellent, and because the seat swivelled then the view was very good, resulting in no craning neck ache at the end of the gig. There then followed two more songs from the same album, ‘24 Hours Blues’ and ‘Well I Done Got Over’. One of the highlights of the evening was ‘Self Inflicted Wounds’ that had a stunning solo vocal from Jade Macrae, akin to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’. It was a real spine-tingling moment. ‘Shout About It’, a cover version of the Ronnie Earl song, had Josh Smith (rhythm guitar), performing the solo. It also had the other backing vocalist Danniella De Andrea performing some very tasty vocals at the end of the song. ‘Last Matador Of Bayonne’ was a very old song from the album ‘Dust Bowl’ and ‘Breaking Up Someone’s Home’ from ‘Live At the Greek’ showcased what a fine vocalist and brilliant guitarist Bonamassa is. He slipped in a few notes from the ‘Dust Bowl’ track during the latter, which I doubt that many people would have spotted, and Smith again took over a very fine lead guitar solo.

For the first time in the set, Bonamassa then talked to the audience. Joking about the radio channels that he was getting from one of his amps, rejoicing in being back at the RAH and then introducing the band; the aforementioned Smith (guitar) and Macrae and De Andrea (backing vocals), Calvin Turner (bass), Carl (Lamar) Carter (drums) and Reese Wynans (keys). The show then continued with ‘Heart That Never Waits’ and ‘Is It Safe To Go Home’, before performing Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Lazy Poker Blues’, that again had Smith taking over stunning lead guitar and a wonderful organ solo from Wynans. The final track was the ZZ Top number ‘Just Got Paid’ that also incorporated Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed And Confused’; there was also a fine drum solo by Carter, which initially didn’t sound that impressive but built up to a fantastic crescendo.

The band left the stage and then returned after a few minutes and Bonamassa mentioned that he was missing Bernie Marsden, as this was the first time that he had played the RAH without him. He then told the audience that they were going to play ‘Mountain Time’, as he said it was the audience’s most loved song from his first RAH appearance. It started with the intro to Hendrix’s ‘Burning Of The Midnight Lamp’ before going into the actual melody. The show then finished at 21.35, to one of the many standing ovations that had occurred during the course of the evening.

A brilliant evening’s entertainment and an absolute belter of a performance from not only Bonamassa but the rest of his amazing band too. The backing vocalists add so much more to all of his songs, without being too over-powering. Every time I see him, he gets better and better, and last night was no exception.


Review: Paul Gregory. Photos: Simon Green





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