Concert Reviews

Joe Bonamassa (2017) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 26, 2017    
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Joe Bonamassa - Sick-Arena, Freiburg (Germany) - 16 May 2017

For Joe Bonamassa it is worth flying to Freiburg (Germany) to see his show. He belongs to one of those artists where the name has already become a status: Blues/Rock in the highest perfection. Therefore I trusted word of mouth and flew to Germany, hoping he would fulfil my expectations.

The middle-sized hall was nearly sold out with 3000 seated places. Some fans were a bit disappointed about the seats, as they knew Joe is going to rock.

At 8 o'clock the lights went off, and an organ began before the spot showed Joe, singing the opener song 'This Train'. A good mood Garage Rock song to warm up the audience, followed by his Led-Zepplin sounding Blues-Rock hit 'Mountain Climbing', which leads to a catchy Melodic Rock chorus, continued by 'Blues Of Desperation', which he named his latest studio album release after.

When he started the slowly rising solo in 'No Place For The Lonely, I realised the juxtaposition: There is this 40 years young white man standing in a black suit, playing a smashing solo and if you close your eyes and just listen to the feeling, you would imagine someone between BB King and Chuck Berry standing there. The suit definitely didn't stop him from rocking!

Joe Bonamassa Live 1

Accompanied by his brilliant band – Reese Wynans on keys (Stevie Ray Vaughan), Anton Fig on drums (Bob Dylan, Joe Jocker), Michael Rhodes on bass guitar (Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks), the brass players Lee Thornburg on trumpet (Ray Charles, Huey Luis) and Paulie Cerra on saxohphone (Stevie Wonder) – they started to play his power ballad 'How Deep This River Runs'. With the stunning harmonies from his two beautiful backing vocalists Jade MacRae and Juanita Tippins and his crunchy and strong solo, underlaid by a Hammond organ sound and mixed with a deluxe light show, this song truly goes deep under your skin.

When playing the fresh and modern cover of Led Zepplin's 'Boogie With Stu', a few people, including me, were finally brave enough to stand up and move to the groove, as it was barely possible to keep your feet still. Reese Wynans blew me away with his piano solo – he made me feel like I was sitting in a Chicago Rock n' Roll Club, back in the 60s and listening to legends like Ray Charles on the piano.

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The only time Joe was saying more than a quick "Thank you" at the end of the song, was when he introduced the band. It was nice to see a bit of his personality, as he appreciates his long-term relationship and loyalty to his musicians. Indeed these were one of the best live bands I have ever heard; they played with feeling and perfection.

In his funky sounding 'Love Ain't A Love Song' he bawled out a very creative solo, using the whole range of his nice fender guitar, with all kind of styles and highly creative melodies, from super-fast arpeggios to creating extraordinary sounds by sliding along the strings, ending up in a sensational call and response with his trumpet player.

My highlight was 'Song Of Yesterday'. In my opinion the wrong title – it should be 'Song For Everyday' as it has everything! What a beginning, so intensive and deep, almost theatrical. It was already programmed to end up big, and indeed all the lights went off and we could only listen to the guitar intro, which reminded me a bit of Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive'. The harmonies gave me goose bumps and the song progressed to a highly emotional guitar solo, accompanied by the big voices of his backing singers and by great brass playing, coming to a sped up ending, resulting in a choir of "take it higher". If you manage to play a 10 minutes song and the audience still wishes this song would never end, then this might be the highest confirmation you can make it as a musician.

Joe Bonamassa Live 2

With the following three songs, 'Little Girl', 'Going Down' and 'How Many More Times', he finally got us up from our seats to come close to him in front of the stage to dance and celebrate. We had reason to do so, as it was a fantastic night with excellent music. I couldn't hear any mistakes. Joe Bonamassa provides the full package for all Blues lovers: he brings back the deep Blues of BB King and the Rock n' Roll of Chuck Berry, mixes it up with Blues/Rock a la Stevie Ray Vaughan or crunchy Garage Rock a la Led Zeppelin. Due to his creative songwriting style, for example taking the chorus away from expectation, high/ class melodies and solos, he brings the Blues up to date. You would never expect that this black-suited man is able to rule his Gibson or Fender guitar like barely anyone else nowadays. A big shout out to his world class musicians, that the audience appreciated with the same respect as Joe.

Although the crowd was a bit calm that night, probably also due to the quiet PA sound, Joe Bonamassa flew away from stage and left us speechless and on our emotional peak with his encore song 'Humbling Bird, Don't Fly Away' – but it was so worth it to fly away from London for that day to see Joe Bonamassa live in Freiburg.

Cheri Lyn

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