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ConcertsJoe Bonamassa – Glasgow Clyde Auditorium 3rd July

Posted on Monday, July 04 2016 @ 18:33:30 CDT by Steven Reid
Concert Reviews

Even in a genre known for celebrating its heroes and plundering their greatest moments for maximum effect, for an artist as renowned as Joe Bonamassa to put together a set that doesn't contain any of his own material, or even the covers that over the years he's made his own, could be seen as a risk. The reason Joe is in the cosy but spacious Clyde Auditorium, one of the few venues that can make a crowd of three thousand feel intimate, is to celebrate the British bluesmen that, in his own words, he wouldn't be where he is without: those men being Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

With those names as inspiration, any worries that the assembled throng wouldn't be aware of the chosen numbers used to demonstrate the trio's influence surely would be dispelled – after all, everyone knows a little Zeppelin, Cream or Clapton, don't they? However with maybe two exceptions easy choices were eschewed in favour of Page and Clapton's more bluesy, guitar oriented moments – and the travesty that Beck's music is far from being as recognised as it should – meaning that for many, most of the near two hour set was unfamiliar, even if most of it was well over forty years old… As you'd expect Bonamassa only surrounds himself with the best, Michael Rhodes (bass), ex-sideman of Stevie Ray Vaughn's Double Trouble Reese Wynans (keyboards), Russ Irwin (guitars, keyboards, vocals and genuinely Joe's next door neighbour!) and, a man's who CV reads like a who's who of rock, pop and so much more, Anton Fig (drums). A list that musicians would have no hesitation in describing as being amongst the most talented in the world – and they'd be right.

With a sparse stage set of vintage amps and a few Marshall stacks backdropped by a vast rectangular wall of lights, the simple but effective set-up made it clear this tour is all about the music. The opening trio of "Beck's Bolero", "Mainline Florida" and "Boogie With Stu" which introduced each of the three guitarists being celebrated – Beck, Clapton and Page respectively – didn't appear to be that particularly well known to the crowd. However on stage they were note perfect, Bonamassa wringing every ounce of passion and power from his wailing and crying guitar, while Rhodes on bass would prove to be the unmitigated powerhouse behind the whole event. Prowling around he laid down grooves so thick that they rolled off the stage and into the audience, beginning the process of winning over an already partisan crowd. A trio of Beck tracks – Bonamassa explaining the impact the Beck's Beck-Ola and Truth albums had on him – were up next, the emotion of "Let Me Love You Baby" the breaking point that suddenly seemed to win the whole audience over; the likes of the stunning Cream track (which Bonamassa prefaced by revealing that in his youth he'd really struggled to understand what this song's lyrics were about, but now, having had the time to study them, still had no fucking clue…!) "SWLABR", an absolute triumph.

Bonamassa is a true force of nature, his whole aura utterly captivating; exquisite guitar solos tearing the roof off the place, or so quiet and precise that shouts, whoops and whistles could be heard punctuating the heartfelt notes (it felt, quite wonderfully, like being whisked back into some of the classic live albums of the 70s…). However it was the stunning level of musicianship across the whole stage that really captured the imagination, the interaction and interplay between the five a joy. However having the opportunity to watch Wynans conduct proceedings from behind his keyboards by merely raising a hand in the air, and to see the enjoyment the band were clearly having every note of the way, took a great experience and made it a truly memorable one. Having focused on Beck early in the set, the other pair being paid homage to were turned to, "I Can't Quit You Baby" originally by Zeppelin and "Little Girl" from Clapton's time with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, given superb workouts; Bonamassa always reverential to the originals without being scared to stamp his own style all over them.

Having cleverly kept some better known numbers for the tail end of the night, by the time Clapton's "Pretending" – which saw some phenomenal vocal interplay between Bonamssa and Irwin – led neatly into Zeppelin's "White Summer/Black Mountain Side" and a towering rendition of the same band's "How Many More Times" – which also featured a snatch of Free's "The Hunter" – the crowd were on their feet, hailing the five heroes on stage and the three being honoured musically. After the traditional pause for an encore, Bonamassa approached the mic and said he'd been considering things a little backstage. Having been bowled over by the reception a set of songs he'd never played before this tour began had received, he thought it only fair to change tack slightly, the Tim Curry cover but Bonamassa trademark,"Sloe Gin", finding many rushing to the lip of the stage to worship at the feet of their idol.

At a stage in his career when Joe Bonamassa could rightly be mentioned in the same breath as the three guitarists he showcased tonight, this most talented and humble of musicians continues to pay his dues as only a true bluesman ever would. That he let his many Scottish fans share in the experience made the whole night a genuine honour and pleasure to witness.


Beck's Bolero (Jeff Beck Group)
Mainline Florida (Eric Clapton)
Boogie With Stu (Led Zeppelin)
Let Me Love You Baby (Jeff Beck Group)
Plynth (Jeff Beck Group)
Spanish Boots (Jeff Beck Group)
Double Crossing Time (John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers)
Motherless Children (Eric Clapton)
SWLABR (Cream)
I Can't Quit You Baby (Led Zeppelin) (Tea For One Intro)
Little Girl (John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers)
Pretending (Eric Clapton)
White Summer/Black Mountain Side (Led Zeppelin) (Outro includes Django excerpt)
How Many More Times (Led Zeppelin)

Sloe Gin (Tim Curry)

First photo Gavin Lowrey, remaining three photos Stuart Westwood.

…and there are three further opportunities to catch Joe in the UK on a tour that is sure to be talked about for many years to come…

24 Hour Box Office: 0844 844 0444
24 Hour Venue Box Office: 0844 887 1500
Colston Street, Bristol, BS1 5AR

with special guest
Joanne Shaw Taylor
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 844 0444
Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, London, SE10 9NN 

with special guest
Joanne Shaw Taylor
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 844 0444
Venue Box Office: 01636 655 765
Newark Castle, Riverside Park, Tolney Lane,
Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1BZ

Hits: 1864

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