Thursday 7th July
Greenwich Music Time, London
Unlike some WRC members - we can't pretend that we were at London's Borderline in 2006, nor Poole's Mr. Kyps or Tooting's Jack Beards Blues in 2005 to see some American Blues Rock guitarist named Joe Bonamassa. Although to be fair, we were at Shepherd's Bush Empire for that wow moment in February 2008 and consequently went to see Joe again at Liverpool's Carling Academy in July that same year. Eight year's down the line and many gigs later, including The Royal Albert Hall, we returned to Liverpool and its iconic Cavern Club to have the privilege of seeing JB at an exclusive gig 10 days ago and now we were off to see him at Greenwich Music Time (pics: John Bull) at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London. Although obviously lacking the intimacy of The Cavern - the venue was stunning - set appropriately within British history - even the sun was shining with a stage on the banks of the River Thames.
Following critical acclaim and huge crowds at both The Isle of Wight and Glastonbury Festivals (and an exclusive performance on the BBC), Joanne Shaw Taylor has previous supporting history with JB - the first time we saw her being at The Shepherds Bush Empire at the tail end of 2010 when Joe was playing in Black Country Communion. Now heading over to tour the US before returning to the UK in the autumn, The Queen Of British Blues has added some extra dates due to public demand following the release of her fifth studio album ‘Wild’ (out on Friday 30th September). Opening with 'Mud Honey' from her last album the 'Dirty Truth', it was followed by the distinctive opening riff of 'Outlaw Angel', which heralded this rockin' bluesy stand-out track from 'DT'. The slower 'Tried Tested & True' brought back memories of when we last saw JST at The Jazz Cafe last year - a poignant and personal song performed right from the heart. A power trio engine room of Tom Godlington on bass and Oliver Perry on drums saw a smiling JST 'Jump That Train' from 'Diamonds In The Dirt' which took us back to that BCC gig - followed by the title track - affirmation of why we jumped on board with JST in 2010. The groove of 'Watch 'em Burn' from her debut album 'White Sugar' showcased JST's blistering guitar style and appropriately 'Going Home' from the same album rounded off her 45 impressive minute set. No new stuff from 'Wild' but no doubt Joanne had recruited many more JB fans as she did with us just under six years ago!
Ten days earlier, Joe Bonamassa joined a host of named legends as he received his brick in The Cavern ‘Wall of Fame’ ahead of his Cavern gig - a thank you to his British fans for the support they have shown him through his career as launched his series of British Blues Explosion concert's, which pay homage to some of his musical inspirations including Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, the latter two who already also feature in the Cavern’s ‘Wall of Fame’! GMT, in front of 5,000 people, was the penultimate of his five special concerts - an artist who no doubt epitomises the music business cliche of reinventing yourself given his last three offerings of 'Driving Towards The Daylight', 'Muddy Wolf At Red Rocks', 'Blues Of Desparation' and now his latest salute to British Blues! Not unsurprisingly, JB's setlist was pretty much the same as The Cavern - although he did throw in a penultimate Zep cover 'Black Winter/Django' and of course an encore of 'Sloe Gin' instead of The Beatles 'Taxman' for obvious reasons. Also, in addition to his salute to the British Holy Trinity - BC&P - Bonamassa duly covered some John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers - namely 'Double Crossing Time' and 'Little Girl' but for mine it was so refreshing to hear a couple of Zep classic's that could be considered nowadays as being off the beaten track - such as 'Boogie With Stu' and 'Tea For One/I Can't Quit You Baby'. And on the subject of reinvention - JB's new band consisting of Anton Fig (drums), Mike Rhodes (bass), Russ Irwin (guitar) and ex Stevie Ray Vaughan keysman Reese Wynans were a dream. And what can you say about the main man himself that has not been said already? How about a two hour masterclass from a guitarist, vocalist and very modest performer still at the very top of his game? Awesome! Go Joe!