Joe Bonamassa

Thursday 19th March 2015

Hammersmith Apollo, London

JB - The Set-Up



Despite suffering from a chest infection, Joe Bonamassa stormed into the Hammersmith Apollo for the second of his four London gigs on Thursday night - so it was definitely a case of 'Live From Somewhere In Particular'. To be fair the jury has been out on Joe recently given the relentless JB juggernaut of new releases going hand in hand perhaps with the prohibitive cost to some of his Apollo tickets. Has Joe - and no pun intended - come to a 'Crossroads?'. We can always hark back to 2008 when we all walked out of the Shepherds Bush Empire with the biggest smiles on our faces for many a year after seeing Bonamassa for the first time - but hey things have to move on. Anyway, apologies that we told you we were meeting in The Trout. Yes it’s now called The Yardbird but we did manage to bump into ‘Dave’ and JB (not that JB) – thanks for the excellent pics John.



JB - The Hook



Things improved after that false start when we chatted to some Cornish JB fans in the bar before we ventured up to our seats in the circle. Not only were we in the Gods but we were greeted by rows of empty seats which didn’t exactly help the atmosphere despite Joe’s manufactured stage entrance. All this was forgotten as he launched straight into one of the stand-out tracks from Different Shades Of Blue - ‘Oh Beautiful’ – traditional Bonamassa as was the classic follow-up ‘Never Give All Your Heart’ from the same album. It was all change then as Joe jumped into Howlin’ Wolf’s Hidden Charms and here lies the rub. Reinventing yourself is part and parcel of the industry but perhaps this understandably sits very uncomfortably with your longstanding JB fan - particularly the risk of diluting himself with his stand out eight piece band (the writing already being on the wall at last year’s Calling Festival). It was more of the same with the horn section and keys on ‘Living On The Moon’ and ‘Trouble Town’. However, Otis Rush’s ‘Double Trouble’ was pivotal for me on the night - Reese Wynan’s keys the perfect foil for Bonamassa’s amazing guitar solo and I’m starting to see the light. Wow!



JB - The Sting



We were then back in familiar ‘Different Shades Of Blue’ territory with ‘Love Ain’t A Love Song’ and ‘I Gave Up Everything for You, 'Cept the Blues’ which again showcased the tightness of the 8 piece and just when I was ready to sign up on the dotted line - wouldn’t you believe it – we were back on familiar ground with his big hitters ‘Sloe Gin’ and ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’. As for the encore – as Wrinkly will testify – I don’t remember JB encores (in-joke). What I do know is that his fan’s general indifference to the direction of Joe’s latest CD, would have certainly been allayed by this gig and they should go out and buy it. Strangely enough my favourite track off of ‘Different Shades Of Blue’ – ‘Heartache Follows Wherever I Go’ was omitted. What we witnessed tonight was the sorcerer in action with his apprentices – but despite his magic and more to the point – his magical back catalogue – I don’t think Joe will ever be able to cast a spell to satisfy everyone within a two hour setlist.



Setlist:



Oh Beautiful

Never Give All Your Heart

Hidden Charms

So, What Would I Do

Living On The Moon

Trouble Town

Double Trouble

I Gave Up Everything For You, ‘Cept The Blues

Look Over Yonders Wall

Don’t Burn Down That Bridge

Love Ain’t A Love Song

Sloe Gin

The Ballad of John Henry

Encore:

All Aboard



AJ