The dedicated fans of blues titan Joe Bonamassa were lined up around the building eagerly awaiting the show. A lot of fans were already sporting shirts from different tours and the chatter had immediately begun comparing the setlist’s of previous shows to what he may play tonight. Joe gives the fans opportunities to catch his shows with multiple tours per year, while the shows themselves truly out do the last. All questions, comments and concerns the fans have would be answered in full very shortly.
The sold out crowd erupts as the house lights go out and the sound tape begins to play. But through the darkness, you could spot the man of the hour wearing that signature suit, sunglasses and toting a Les Paul as well as longtime drummer Anton Fig who is back in the saddle after a 7 month recovery from a broken ankle. As the tape winds down, the audio of an old radio show host introducing the famous Muddy Waters and in perfect homage, Joe and friends break right into the Muddy classic “Tiger In Your Tank”.
After a trio of tracks from Joe’s last album Redemption, the band change up the pace of the show and lay down the emotionally charged Kenny Neal cover “If Heartaches Were Nickels”. The lyrics themselves are sang from the soul about this anthem of a broken heart, but Bonamassa lets the guitar bring it all home with just an incredible solo which served as the peak of the powerful track.
“Blues of Desperation” is always a highlight of a Joe Bonamassa show, but tonight, Joe would add a bit of a cosmic element by adding a tool made famous by Jimmy Page in the theremin. With a wave of the hand he could create out of this world sounds that echoed through the building at one point, Bonamassa even raised his guitar at it to do the work for him.
Following the staple track “Sloe Gin”, it’s that time of the show when Joe engages the crowd and introduces the band. As he jokes about how “hard” it is to get thrown out of one of the local Clearwater bars, we’ll just say an inebriated and over zealous fan decided to make a song request. The following interaction went as follows:
Fan- “Hey Joe, play FREEBRID!!!!”
Joe Bonamassa- “FUCK YOU! That song will not be played on this stage tonight sir”.
Needless to say, there has never been a greater response to that token phrase at a show and the crowd reacted with laughter and a thunderous ovation. Joe then apologizes to his own mother to was in the audience and promised to put a dollar in the swear jar.
It’s no surprise with such a successful and accomplished career, Joe Bonamassa knows a thing or two about song writing. But something else he does that he may not get the full credit he deserves, is his uncanny ability to put a uniqueness and originality on playing versions of other artists songs. With the setlist comprising of nine such songs, the pinnacle of that list would be some of the biggest names in blues and rock.
First up was one of the my favorite Led Zeppelin songs “Tea For One” but little did I know, the song was gonna have a Bonamassa twist. That being Joe substituting the original lyrics for the lyrics of another well known Zeppelin/Willie Dixon song “I Can’t Quit You Babe”. Before I could even fully appreciate what I just witnessed, Joe breaks into “Little Girl” from the legendary John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers giving Clapton a run for his money while tearing through that infamous solo.
And to cap off just a top notch set of great music, Joe Bonamassa plays one of his most recognizable renditions of ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid”. Towards the end of the song, Joe breaks into a jam session and the momentum of the music carries him back to the theremin to wow the crowd yet again. And then that’s when it hits. Joe and company crash right into the solo section of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” (Sorry fans, no violin bow).
This would mark my third show this year and it just get’s better every single time. When you share the stage with world class musicians the possibilities are endless for what the end result can be. With a horn section comprised of some of the best in business with Lee Thornburg and Paulie Cerra, Hall of Famer Reese Wynans on the keys, Nashville recording legend Michael Rhodes on bass, powerful and soulful singers like Jade MacRae and Juanita Tippins and one of the most sought after and accomplished drummers in the business Anton Fig you will clearly, get nothing but the best!
Make sure to get your tickets for future shows while they last. And don’t forget to pickup Joe Bonamassa’s latest album Redemption the his latest live album Live at the Sydney Opera House. For music, merch and gear head over to Joe’s website at jbonamassa.com.
Spring Tour 2020 dates:
March 2 – Charlotte, NC – Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
March 3 – Chattanooga, TN – Memorial Auditorium
March 5 – Peoria, IL – Peoria Civic Center
March 6 – Cleveland, OH – Playhouse Square
March 7 – Cleveland, OH – Playhouse Square
March 9 – Rockford, IL – Coronado Performing Arts Center
March 10 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theatre
March 12 – Green Bay, WI – Weidner Center for the Performing Arts
March 13 – Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre
March 14 – Minneapolis, MN – Orpheum Theatre
March 17 – Boise, ID – Morrison Center
March 19 – Spokane, WA – First Interstate Center for the Arts
March 20 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre
March 21 – Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre