Gig review: JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

The Best of 2016

 JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

Without doubt Joe Bonamassa is one of the biggest blues stars in the world at the moment. Over the last few years he has grown a large and very loyal following who turn out in numbers whenever he rolls into town. Here at GRTR! we have a number of reviewers in the ranks with a love of all things blues and as a consequence I was yet to see JB live, so when this Blues Explosion tour was announced I thought it would be a good time to sample the Bonamassa experience.

The ‘sold out’ signs were on the doors as we arrived and considering the not insubstantial ticket prices (£85 for a stalls ticket!) this was an indication of the stature and appeal of Bonamassa.

This tour was billed as the British Blues Explosion tour and featured Joe playing songs from his idols, namely Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Joe had selected some of his favourite tracks from their collective back catalogues and had then added a sprinkling of Bonamassa magic to each to make for an interesting set list, this was no greatest hits package.

 JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

With no support on this date the band hit the stage very promptly at 8pm with little fuss, no big intro tapes to build atmosphere here! Last to emerge was the man himself with Les Paul in hand as the band launched into ‘Becks Bolero’.

Joe soon had the Les Paul singing, fingers flying around the fret board at lightening speed. Watching his hands, he makes the complicated fret runs look effortless which is at odds with the pained expressions on his face as he gurned his way through the set.

 JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

Clapton’s ‘Mainline Florida’ came next quickly followed by the first Led Zeppelin number of the night ‘Boogie With Stu’. Joe then talked about the tour concept and introduced the next segment which featured songs from the first two albums he bought which were by the Jeff Beck Band. The tracks included a rocking version of ‘Plynth’ and one of the more recognisable songs of the night, ‘Spanish Boots’.

I had read elsewhere that the band which Joe had gathered for this tour had only rehearsed for a week or so prior to hitting the road, so the fact that not a cue was missed throughout the night was testament to the quality of the players on stage.

With the likes of Russ Irwin on guitar and vocals and recent Hall Of Fame inductee Reese Wynans on keys these were no mere hired hands. The rhythm section of Mike Rhodes on bass and Anton Fig on drums were solid as a rock throughout the evening.

 JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

Other set highlights followed the first being the Cream track ‘Swlabr’ with Joe joking that he has no idea what the lyrics are about even after studying them for this tour! The song was accompanied with the bank of lights at the rear of the stage forming a rainbow pattern which was a great effect.

Following this Joe was left on stage himself to play the opening of ‘Tea For One’ which had the crowd enthralled, you could have heard a pin drop at some of the quieter sections, which is quite something when you have 3000 Glaswegians in the house.

Another of the more well known and accessible songs aired was the Eric Clapton track ‘Pretending’ which again was given the Bonamassa treatment with a couple of extended guitar workouts thrown in for good measure.

 JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

This then lead into the closing section of the set which again found us in Led Zeppelin territory. ‘Black Mountain Side’ was quickly followed by ‘How Many More Times’ with Joe encouraging the still seated crowd to their feet which they did willingly. We were treated to a bit of a drum solo from Anton Fig during ‘How Many More Times’ which wasn’t the best, however the snippet of the Albert King song ‘The Hunter’ went down decidedly better.

After a few minutes Joe reappeared and said that after not appearing in Glasgow for 5 years he couldn’t leave without playing one more song. The opening chords of ‘Sloe Gin’ again had the crowd on their feet and the song which has become a Bonamassa signature track brought the evening to a close.

 JOE BONAMASSA – Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, 3 July 2016

It is easy to see why Bonamassa is revered in blues rock circles, his guitar playing is jaw dropping at times, indeed Alan Nimmo of King King was sitting a few seats along from me no doubt taking some mental notes. It will be interesting to see if in 20 years time the up and coming blues fraternity will be doing a similar tour featuring Bonamassa songs, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Review by Dave Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott

Gig Review (The Cavern, Liverpool, 27 June)

The remaining dates of the tour are -

24 Hour Box Office: 0844 844 0444
24 Hour Venue Box Office: 0844 887 1500
Colston Street, Bristol, BS1 5AR

with special guest Joanne Shaw Taylor

24 Hour Box Office: 0844 844 0444
Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, London, SE10 9NN

with special guest Joanne Shaw Taylor
24Hour Box Office: 0844 844 0444
Venue Box Office: 01636 655 765
Newark Castle, Riverside Park, Tolney Lane,
Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1BZ

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