Joe Bonamassa – A salute to the British blues explosion

Neimënster continued their run of open air shows on Tuesday night with American blues rocker Joe Bonamassa taking on the British blues acts of the 60s.

This special show saw Bonamassa pay homage to the music of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, all of whom have had a huge influence on the guitarist, as he said last night “If it wasn’t for those guys I’d probably be a house painter”.

From an early age Bonamassa had been brought up on British blues and it’s a sound that has resonated with him all his life, stating “There’s a certain sophistication to their approach to the blues that I really like”. This adulation of the genre saw him take to the road and tour the songs of his three most influential, Beck, Clapton and Page.

Opening the evening was English blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor who was discovered at the tender age of 16 by Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics, and if her voice hasn’t changed much in the perusing years then you can see why. Her warm raspy vocals complimented the heavy blues rock; it came as no surprise that she is always on the road as the stage looked like a second home to her.

Then it was time for Bonamassa, with his blue suit, slicked back hair and sunglasses he strolled out onto the stage and kicked into Jeff Beck’s “Beck’s Bolero”, a ten-minute instrumental which was to set the tone for the evening, from some raw guitar riffs to the most delicate of nuances he had it all.

It would have been easy for Bonamassa to play all the hits but this was one for the purists, choosing some of the more leftfield tracks such as Led Zeppelin’s “Boogie with Stu”, however he still brought his own twist to the songs, again giving us something extra throughout.

It wasn’t just Bonamassa that thrilled the crowd either, but his incredible band made up of recent Rock & Roll hall of famer Reece Wynans on keys for his part in Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band, Russ Irwin on guitar, Michael Rhodes on bass and Anton “The thunder from down under” Fig. So as you can imagine the band were tight when required but also knew when to loosen it up and just allow Bonamassa to go off on one of his solos but it was his breakdowns which were as encapsulating as anything else such as on Beck’s “Let Me Love You Baby”

With the show coming to a close Bonamassa extended Clapton’s “Pretending” with the help of some mercurial skills from Wynans on keys as they stretched it out with some incredible blues riffs, the likes that hooked Bonamassa when he was just a child.

He brought the evening to a close with a Zeppelin double header of “White Summer” and “How Many More Times”, the former being another welcome leftfield choice with its Arabic inspired guitar sound as Bonamassa held the stage all on his own with this solo.

After a set full of British blues classics, they came back for the encore and played “Slow Gin” off Bonamassa’s album of the same name. For someone who was suffering from a sinus infection his vocals were on just as top form as his guitar playing.

It was a rare treat to see a guitarist of such calibre playing all the songs that have influenced him from a young age and with a new album out here’s hoping he’ll be back touring once more very soon.

Neimënster – 12.07.16

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