Joe Bonamassa - 'British Blues Explosion Live' review

Joe Bonamassa, the two-time GRAMMY-nominated blues rock guitar icon releases his latest live extravaganza British Blues Explosion Live on Friday 18th May on CD/DVD/Blu-Ray & 3LP (Black / Red, White & Blue) via Mascot Label Group in Europe and J&R Adventures in North America.

A Salute to the British Blues Explosion, featuring the unbelievable music of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page as Joe pays tribute to his British Blues heroes during a short but very sweet tour of Britain that was 5 performances only. This show was recorded at Greenwich Music Time at The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London on July 7, 2016 on the banks of the River Thames.

Joe Bonamassa never disappoints with his last live release Live At The Greek Theater for me being his finest.

British Blues Explosion saw Joe trim the line up with no horns or backing singers but no loss of power as his five-piece band included Michael Rhodes (Bass), Reese Wynans (Keyboards), Anton Fig (Drums) and Russ Irwin (Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals).

All world class musicians and all play their part with Kevin Shirley's mix crisp and clear throughout.

I have been waiting for this release since the day of the show as I was very fortunate to be present and to see the show again brings back many happy memories of a glorious summer's evening with the following set list.

Beck's Bolero/Rice Pudding (Jeff Beck Group)
Mainline Florida (Eric Clapton)
Boogie With Stu (Led Zeppelin)
Let Me Love You Baby (Jeff Beck Group)  
Plynth (Water Down The Drain) (Jeff Beck Group)
Spanish Boots (Jeff Beck Group)
Double Crossing Time (John Myall & The Bluesbreakers)
Motherless Children (Blind Willie Johnson)
SWLABR (Cream)
Tea For One/I Can't Quit You Baby (Led Zeppelin/Willie Dixon)
Little Girl (John Myall & The Bluesbreakers)
Pretending (Eric Clapton)
Black Winter/Django (Led Zeppelin/Django Reinhardt)
How Many More Times (Led Zeppelin)

Joe Bonamassa is is an incredible man with a hunger to play live and continually re inventing the wheel and with a stream of live releases how does he keep the finished product to such a high quality?

In Joe's blood is remembering the excitement of listening to these great guitarist's in his youth and he brings that joy of playing and helping us to experience the music and let's us all share in that moment.

To be able to recreate the music with his wonderful band he keeps it all fresh and vibrant and considering this was one of only 5 shows played the vibe is intense and life affirming.

Joe also rejoices at playing with his band with Reese having multiple solo spots whether at the start of the song or with a solo embedded and the sound he resonates is wonderful always.Russ Irwin gets to play keys,guitar and backing vocals and also shares lead vocals on Let Me Love You Baby and some lead guitar soloing too.The rhythm section of Anton Fig and Michael Rhodes are as immense as ever and they never ever miss a beat.

For Joe it isn't all about him but a way for the band to express his love for the music and the man himself of course is stunning.His guitar playing is unmatched with solo after solo of technique,note perfect,emotion and feeling that is unrivalled on this planet.He makes his guitar sing and he also possesses a world class voice that he has worked so hard on and throughout his range and tone are superb.

Highlights are difficult to pick as it all is but I do love the harder edged Plynth (Water Down The Drain) after a short Reece solo with the big guitar riff kicking in.The band interplay under Joe's lengthy solo is nothing short of breath taking with Anton in full flow and Michael's bass line nearly reducing Sir Christopher Wren's architecture to ruins.

Double Crossing Time has Reece Hammond on the intro and Joe's guitar add libs fast fresh and fiery as the loose band blues vibe keep it all locked together.

Spanish Boots has a bulldozer of a riff with the band chemistry again evident as the stop start rhythm ebbs and flows and Anton drives the song as only he can.

Boogie With Stu starts on Reece's honky tonk piano before Joe hits the mark vocally and the big bluesy riff takes us to the mid section Reece solo.

Pretending is superb with Joe's chorus vocal then replicated on guitar and the lengthy mid song guitar solo shows Joe off to a tee with his fingers dancing on the frets but always in control and expressing his love for Clapton's original work.

How Many More Times is an express train with the rolling guitar riff insistent and the guitar solo see Joe off in a world where others fear to tread.

Every Joe live release is thought out and is wonderfully put together with the love of a man who celebrates what he grew up with and he is now bringing that to a new generation of music fan's.

British Blues Explosion is a monument to 3 greats and now immortalised for all to see and enjoy for many more years to come.

All photos credited to Christie Goodwin and used with thanks.

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