Joe Bonamassa – Royal Albert Hall, London – APR 2024

His slightly greying hairline is a minor detail that, nevertheless, details this revered journeyman’s continuing longevity as a world-class elite exponent of blues music. As a dedicated bluesman at heart, Joe Bonamassa’s fretboard(s) bled beautiful blue hued guitar notes throughout a masterful two-hour set.

Words: Paul Davies    Pictures: Supplied

The rack of vintage guitars at hand for him to sweetly craft his beloved blues music makes this scene’s prime mover a modern-day blues titan. He proved all of this from opener, Hope You Realize, taken from his recent Blues Deluxe 2 record, as the electric alacrity he displayed during his gripping eleventh visit to this venerable venue was breath-taking in both artistry and technique.

Tonight, he mustered a note perfect execution, with no little feel, accompanied by a superb group of musicians who know how to groove and swing. In doing such, they particularly excelled on covers of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s Twenty-Four-Hour Blues, Guitar Slim’s Well, I Done Got Over It and Fleetwood Mac’s Lazy Poker Blues.

With this rhythm section playing as cool as a deep freezer, Joe is a roaring oven of sonic fire throughout this evening’s sold-out open blues kitchen. The salivating audience joyfully devoured all this and more as the band dialled up the heat of their performance. Is there anyone hotter on the Hammond organ than the searing and choppy keeper of the keys, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and former Double Trouble keyboard player, Reese Wynans? He added his singular touch of grace and danger to proceedings especially on Self Inflicted Wounds and current single The Last Matador Of Bayonne.

In further covering esteemed and overlooked blues artist’s songs, such as Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters’ I Want To Shout About It, it’s gratifying to witness how Joe picks up these roughly treated diamonds, fashions them into gleaming jewels and repositions them into a modern-day blues setting. This live show is a real time example of his dedicated altruism to his fellow blues artists, past and present, as the pulsating The Heart That Never Waits and Just Got Paid, morphing into the rifferama of Led Zep’s Dazed & Confused, confirmed.

Wearing his big heart on his immaculate blue sleeve, he dedicated an encore song, Sloe Gin, to the recently departed Bernie Marsden. He further revealed his true-blue colours with a final racy run through of Crossroads. This, and all that preceded it, served to re-emphasise Joe’s unrivalled credentials as creator and curator of the past, present and, reassuringly, fertile future of blues music that remains safe and vibrant in his creative hands.

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