Joe Bonamassa Royal Albert Hall 4-4-24

Early spring but someone forgot to tell the weather as most seasons were present on the drive into London and a very pleasant walk around Hyde Park.

As Joe told us it's nearly the 15th anniversary of his first shows at the Royal Albert Hall which changed his life forever and for that we should all be truly grateful.

To a packed house we were treated to a 2 hour that had 6 songs from last year's Blues Deluxe Volume 2. For Joe that is a lot as it is normally 2 or 3 maximum and I'm sure looking forward to the US Summer Tour that will see Blues Deluxe and Blues Deluxe Volume 2 as it's heart.

Here is what they played on night 1 of 2 in London.

Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again)
Twenty Four Hour Blues
Well I Done Got Over It
Self Inflicted Wounds 
I Want To Shout About It
The Last Matador Of Bayonne 
Breaking Up Somebodys Home 
The Heart That Never Waits 
Is It Safe To Go Home
Lazy Poker Blues
Just Got Paid / Dazed And Confused /Drum Solo

Encores of Sloe Gin

I have been very fortunate to see Joe on many occasions and how do you review a night of musical perfection?

I won't go song to song this time but safe to say all are played wonderfully and lovingly true to themselves . As I watched I tried to take it all in and how all 7 band members play their part in their own way. Joe is the name above the door but like a proud parent he lets every person on stage show off their ability and makes sure at every opportunity available that each and every one of them gets the applause they richly deserve as they all get a chance to shine. With Joe standing in the shadows and watching it all admiringly. I am not sure I have seen a stage where there were so many smiles from all involved just enjoying the moment as we all should every single time.

As for the last visit to the Royal Albert Hall Joe is joined by Josh Smith on guitar, a rhythm team that few can match of Calvin Turner on bass and Lemar Carter on drums and backing vocals from Jade Macrae and Dannielle DeAndrea.  

Lastly and by know means least Reese Wynans on Hammond organ and keys who has now been in Joe's band for 10 years. Introduced as a Hall Of Fame Inductee for his work with Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble he gets a standing ovation from the crowd. 

When you see the setlist you think how does that get played for 2 hours? Joe's recorded output is only a brief framework to the live song that evolves night to night and each goes off on a tangent from a full on band workout of classic hard rock to a Joe picked note extravaganza where you can hear a pin drop.
I love light to shade and the band interplay from hours on the road you can see a smile from anyone on stage as they see someone do something out of the ordinary. It's encouraged to showcase everybody and each song does that.

It could be a Josh Smith guitar solo who Joe calls the best guitar on stage tonight !! 

It could be the wonderful backing vocals of Jade and Dannielle who both have solo spots where they show jaw dropping vocal acrobatics of range and tone.

It could be the rhythm team of Calvin and Lemar who are the rock that it's all built on. But when the need arises Lemar adds fills and powerhouse drumming that is beyond world class and his solo drum spot was exhilarating.

It could be the legend that is Reese Wynans who has the first solo of the evening and his depth of playing beds out the sound and he add libs through out adding his style and grace to a wonderful performance.

Every tour sees a golden nugget taken from Joe's career and for this one we had Dust Bowl's The Last Matador Of Bayonne which was stunning and shows the depth and quality that Joe has to choose from and we would love it all.

I was fortunate to hear Is It Safe To Go Home from Blues Deluxe Volume 2 about 6 weeks before it was released last October. From it's first note I was captivated with Joe's tone and vocal line and the guitar soloing and melody are incredible .
The words mean different things to different people but for me losing my mum last year and being alone and having to deal with emptying a house that has been home for 42 years has been heartbreakingly hard.
Seeing it live was a moment I will never forget and yes I was in floods of tears as soon as Joe started the guitar melody at the beginning. Joe has developed into a world class vocalist and he was perfect with Reese adding keyboard flourishes to the song it only took it to greater heights. Backing vocals from the gods and Joe's extended guitar solo was everything the great man has. Held notes followed by fast finger picking and tone and melody the man has no equal and I was truly in a moment with the hairs on my neck standing to attention.
Wow music can move you in the most amazing way.

The first encore was dedicated to the sadly departed Bernie Marsden with a beautiful version of the Tim Curry song Sloe Gin with Joe's vocal and guitar solo worldly and the band interplay there to see at every note.

A welcome extra encore was Crossroads with Josh taking the first guitar solo and then Joe excelling himself on the next and the band workout was exemplary too.

Joe Bonamassa and his band go from strength to strength with records and live shows that few can match and we look forward to what comes next.

For Joe that is the soon to be released Live At The Hollywood Bowl With Orchestra live cd and blu ray and then in June it's the new Black Country Communion album "V".

Thank you.

Photo Credit: © Adam Kennedy

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