Joe Bonamassa Royal Albert Hall London 24-4-19
How do you celebrate your 10 year anniversary of your first appearance at the legendary Royal Albert Hall?
By booking a 3 night run there that's how?
Joe seems to have been on the road permanently in those 10 years and with arsenal of superb albums behind him and backed by truly some of the world's greatest musicians this was going to be special.
For 2 and a quarter hours we were treated to the following set list.
Tiger In Your Tank (Muddy Waters cover)
King Bee Shakedown
Just Cos' You Can Don't Mean You Should
Self Inflcted Wounds
Blues Of Desperation
How Deep This River Runs
Sloe Gin (Tim Curry cover)
Don't You Lie To Me (with Toby Lee)
Nobody Loves Me But My Mother (BB King cover)
Little Girl (John Mayall &The Heartbreakers)
Encores of Woke Up Dreaming
Where to start?At 7.30 sharp the house lights dip and a new opener in Tiger In Your Tank the Muddy Waters number and from the opening second the band are locked in like a machine.
Drummer Anton Fig, bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist Reese Wynans,horn players Lee Thornburg and Paulie Cerra, background singers Mahalia Barnes and Jade McRae.
All world class and I love as time progresses their contributions come more to the fore.
Joe allows all of them a time in the spotlight that they deserve and with a raise of his hand the crowd applaud each in turn.It is mind blowing being so close and not knowing where to look next whether it a trumpet,sax,vocal,Hammond,drum or bass line turn.
As the years develop so does their telepathy and the songs always have the album version blue print to work from but it is a blank canvas to where they will head next.
Last year's superb Redemption album has the next 4 songs in line with each having time to breath and wonderfully executed.
King Bee Shakedown's rolling guitar riff with Joe's fingers a blur on the fret's is a show high light with Anton's Led Zeppelin inspired intro to Evil Mama had the crowd cheering.
Just Cos' had a lengthy Reese's Hammond break and the sheer joy on the man's face as he perform's is a lesson for any up and coming musician.Again his finger's dance and we cheer to Joe's call for the legend that is in our midst.
Self Inflicted Wounds is in my opinion one of Joe's best ballads and the hair's on the back of my neck rose as his held note solo showed such emotion poise and beauty.
How Deep This River Runs was stunning with Joe's voice superb as the chorus builds with the 2 backing singers simply superb in clarity and tone.
Sloe Gin was moved to mid set with me managing to keep a dry eye as at the Bournemouth show with my dad very poorly and soon to pass the emotion got me so badly.
Joe's lengthy mid song solo showed emotion through every note and pore and brought people to their feet at it's close.
Don't You Lie To Me had Joe bring a guest on stage with 14 year old Toby Lee duelling Joe at the end of the song and showing what a talent he had.Joe said he had brought someone up with as he invited Eric Clapton up at the original show 10 years ago.As the show ended Joe picked up his set list and signed it giving it to Toby in the wings.A special moment.
Last song of the set was stunning Last Kiss showing off the wonderful sound in the venue as the light and shade and band dynamics shone through with the rhythm team of Anton and Micheal untouchable.As was Joe's solo's that he now appears to attack with a venom and intensity like every one could be his last.
Encore time saw Joe alone with an acoustic guitar and he took it to within an inch of it's life during Woke Up Dreaming.The audience was spellbound at the speed and stunning ability shown and another deserved standing ovation at the end as we witnessed pure greatness in front of us.
Mountain Time was a welcome re admission to the set and the lengthy version gave everyone a chance to shine as we were shown again that this is the Joe Bonamassa Band not just him.
With that the lights came up and we filed out thinking wow.Time and again Joe and his wonderful band take us to the heights and you should break the bank to get along on either of the next 2 nights at history in the making.
The pictures above are used with thanks and credited to Marty Moffatt.
Joe with Toby Lee photo used with thanks and credited to Zoran Veselinovic.