Joe Bonamassa Hammersmith Apollo 22nd October 2011

Jake Morley was first up. He played a 30 minute acoustic set playing his guitar on his lap strings up and then clipped the back of it to make the percussion sounds. Strange but it worked. He was joined on a double bass by a member of his band .He went down well as the crowd slowly filtered in. That's the trouble of being support and going on 15 minutes early!!

On to the hardest working man on the planet for his second sold out night at Hammersmith. Earlier in the week he had proved to be mortal and had to miss 2 gigs with flu although nothing would stop him playing these shows. He told a good story of how to overcome flu with a bottle and a half of whiskey,2 young ladies and half of Boots's shelves.
He joked later his missus Sandi Thom (as he introduced her) would kill him now anyway.

Over the course of two and a half hours he showed why he is the best guitarist of our generation.
This is what he played:

  • Cradle Rock(Rory Gallagher cover)
  • When The Fire Hits The Sea
  • Midnight Blues(first 3 all played on Rory Gallagher's strat)(Gary Moore cover)
  • Slow Train
  • Dust Bowl
  • Watch Yourself
  • Sloe Gin
  • Ballad Of John Henry
  • Lonesome Road Blues
  • Give Me One Reason (with Bernie Marsden and Eilidh Mckellar)
  • Blues Deluxe (again with Bernie Marsden and Eilidh Mckellar)
  • Song Of Yesterday
  • Young Man Blues
  • Woke Up Dreaming
  • India/Mountain Time
  • Encores
  • Bird On A Wire(with Sandi Thom)
  • Just Got Paid

Superbly backed by his band of Carmine Rojas on bass, Rick Melick on keys and Tal Bergman on drums he mesmerised us with all his styles of playing.
Rock, blues, acoustic -  the man can do it all. Some of the interplay with his band as they tried to out do each other was stunning.And great to see them having a blast in fact Joe managed to nearly knocked his glasses off as he tried to restart a song before Tal was ready!!

The man is still a fan and his pleasure in being allowed by Rory Gallagher's family to use one of Rory's old strats was there for all to see. The emotion in his cover of "Cradle Rock" and then Gary Moore's "Midnight Blues" was off the scale and a fitting tribute to 2 of his idols.

The sound on the night was superb and during "Slow Train" I remember thinking this sounds huge and to follow it up with "Dust Bowl" played a lot faster than the recorded version was brilliant.

We had my favourite Joe song a superb "Sloe Gin"where you could have a pin drop during the start of the song and also my favourite Black Country Communion song in the sublime "Song Of Yesterday"!

We had a change to the normal setlist and an introduction. A friend of his had sent him a youtube clip of a young lady playing the Lee Ritenour song "Give Me One Reason" saying she can play it better than Joe could.So he invited 17 year old Eilidh Mckellar from Edinburgh to join him and also his friend Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake too.

I tell you what a star is born Eilidh was fantastic and the interplay between the 3 was brilliant. There is some great youtube footage of this and the next song "Blues Deluxe"too.

After being joined by his missus Sandi Thom for a duet on Bird On A Wire the evening was finished off with a very heavy "Just Got Paid" for which he managed to get the whole place on their feet.I don't like to sit down at gigs but sat in row 2 it was a masterclass and a joy to see at such close quarters and I got a guitar pick at the end too!!!!

So Joe's star continues to ascend and rightly so as he now moves onto arenas in March and April.

A brilliant night out.

(photo credit Jerry Tremaine)

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