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Joe Bonamassa

Friday 5th April 2024

Royal Albert Hall, London

Renowned Blues-Rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa continues to captivate audiences worldwide with his relentless touring and musical innovations, with more electrifying performances on his 2024 tour, covering major cities in the U.S. and Europe, that included a return to London's Royal Albert Hall tonight following his first gig here last night.

Still as prolific as the last time we saw him at this iconic venue just under two years ago, with four new releases plus another live album due out next month, with the exception of Carl Lamar Carter on drums and Calvin Turner on bass, Bonamassa's septet was pretty much the same as 2022, namely JB on guitars/vocals, Josh Smith on guitar, Reece Wynans on keys, plus Danniella De Andrea and Jade McRae on backing vocals.

Cue expectant cheering from the sold out crowd as the lights dimmed and the intro music played, as the shadowy figures on stage were finally lit up, with all eyes immediately focussed on the shades wearing, dapper checked suited, red guitar wielding, Grammy Award nominated, New Yorker. Opening up with 'Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again)' from 2023's Blues Deluxe Vol. 2., Bonamassa not only duly obliged with his first, and indeed not his last, extended solo of this set, but also cupped his ear to the audience in appreciation of the Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble legend, for his first, and similarly, not his last keys solo of the gig.

One of many guitar changes during the night, JB slowed things down with the opener from 'Blues Deluxe Vol. 2' and Bobby Blue Bland's '24 Hour Blues', with yet another outstanding solo from Joe, which no doubt had the late American Blues singer smiling down with approval. As would American guitarist Guitar Slim on Bonamassa's intricate solo on the following foot tappin'/finger waggin' cover of his 'Well I Done Got Over', yet another from 'Blues Deluxe Vol. 2.'

Introducing the shades wearing, Reece Wynans t-shirt wearing, bassist Turner to the Royal Albert Hall, JB's band slowed things down once again, as they went back to 2018's 'Redemption' and 'Self Inflicted Wounds', with Joe's wonderful Gilmour-esque tone, equally matched for mine by De Andrea and McRae's 'Great Gig In The Sky'-ish backing vocal. It was then time to pick up the pace again as everyone clapped along to a rockin' cover of Ronnie Earle and The Broadcasters 'I Want To Shout About It', with a great vocal from Bonamassa, as he sang "I know, I'm a lucky man".

Indeed you are Joe, as the custom hatted Smith and the 76 year-young Wynans both weighed in with blistering solos before JB turned the clock back to 2013 and the treasured 'Dust Bowl' with 'Last Matador Of Bayonne'. Also recently released as the second single from his upcoming 'Live At The Hollywood Bowl', the spine-tingling 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' vibe intro to this beautifully constructed classic, built into a truly exquisite solo and vocal from Bonamassa, with Joe, near the very end, amusingly showing his class to a ecstatic shriek from the crowd, "Sing it baby!". Sing it indeed.

After that epic, and still suited and booted, JB took the opportunity to cool off and grab a towel, allowing Smith and Wynans, seemingly like a schoolmaster behind his desk, to the fore, both with superb solos on a cover of Ann Peebles 'Breaking Up Somebody's Home', taken from 2016's 'Live At The Greek Theatre'. Playing all the way through, Bonamassa understandably then took some time out before 'The Heart That Never Waits', for a bit of banter, not only recalling that this was the fifteenth anniversary of his very first show at the RAH (we were there Joe), but he also made a poignant tribute to the much missed Bernie Marsden, as well as introducing his band that resulted in a touching standing ovation for Reece.

Taken from 2021's 'Time Clocks', with Daniella and Jade's backing vocals shimmering like their silver outfits, Bonamassa once again made his guitar sing with another intricate solo, before removing his shades to a shout of "I love you Joe" from the cheap seats. It was then back to a brace from 'Blues Deluxe Vol. 2', namely 'Is It Safe To Go Home', with its epic guitar intro plus powerful vocal, that saw JB marching around the stage, followed by Fleetwood Mac's 'Lazy Poker Blues', with Bonamassa demanding 'Come on Reece!" as solos from both Wynans Roland and Smith's guitar rocked out to yet another toe tapper.

Featuring a remarkable drum solo from the bespectacled Carl Lamar Carter, Bonamassa then motioned for everyone to raise their devil horns and stand up for the set closer, ZZ Top's 'Just Got Paid'. Amusingly, talking of horns, not quite sure what Joe's good friend and well respected DJ Nicky Horne thought of this, of whom, not only did we have the pleasure of meeting before the gig, but he was also a major advocate of Joe's potential on Planet Rock sixteen years ago. Suffice to say that Nicky's subsequent Twitter/X praise of tonight's brilliant gig, continues to prove that this broadcasting legend wasn't wrong.

Surprisingly no 'Sloe Gin' as the encore, but even better, JB played the epic 'Mountain Time', from 2002's 'So It's Like That', that took me back to my first time seeing Joe at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire back in February 2008. A very emotional end to an evening from an artist that is still right at the top of his game. Two straight hours of quality not quantity, or as our photographer Chris Griffiths so eloquently put it, "It was all killer no filler". With their tour buses parked outside, the Bonamassa juggernaut now rolls on .to Europe, although you can catch him back in the UK at Eridge Park's Black Deer Festival in Kent on Friday 14th June.

Do not miss him!


Photos: Chris Griffiths

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