Joe Bonamassa: Live in Blackpool , 22nd April 2017

Joe Bonamassa's UK tour follows hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed Salute To The British Blues Explosion tribute that saw the American guitarist paying homage to the music of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, and it's justifiably billed as the Guitar Event of the Year. There are some great guitarists out there in what's currently a thriving and buoyant rock scene, and that's something very satisfying indeed. But Joe brings something quite unique to the turn-table: the ability to stir real emotion from what may be only a single note.

Following shows at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall and 2 nights at the Royal Albert Hall, Joe returns to Blackpool Opera House. Whilst not quite as iconic as Joe’s favourite London venue, tonight's grandeur setting is steeped in history. This grade II listed building is considered to be one of the finest theatres in Europe and it boasts the largest fixed stage in the UK. This is the second time that Joe Bonamassa has performed at the Opera House, the first being in April 2012. Whilst his debut Opera House performance was a great show, it was tinged with sadness due to the fact that Jim Marshall (Marshall Amps) passed away that same day. 

On entering the venue’s foyer this evening we notice there is an uneasy tension building. Fans are highly disappointed at the £35 price tag for a Joe Bonamassa tour t shirt. It's not quite 'flaming torches and pitch forks' but there is definitely an unrest. 

Joe takes to the stage promptly at 8pm dressed in a black suit, grey tie and sunglasses and the show kicks off in full throttle with This Train, the opening track from Joe’s latest album Blues of Desperation. It's a fine song to showcase not only the quality of material residing on his latest studio record, but also what a world class band Joe has brought with him. There are 8 people on stage tonight including a brass section and 2 highly talented, and choreographed, backing singers/dancers. It's quite clear from the outset that this is a full-production show.

The show continues to focus on the new record as Mountain Climbing, Blues Of Desperation, No Good Place for the Lonely and How Deep This River Runs follow, and it's entirely reasonable that a visionary artist such as Joe should want to share his latest work.

As a reminder of Joe’s 2016 British Blues Explosion shows, Led Zeppelin’s Boogie With Stu is up next. Similarly, in a nod to Joe’s 2015 Three Kings tour  (celebrating the music of Albert King, Freddie King and BB King), Joe celebrates the memory of his friend BB King with Never Make Your Move Too Soon, and with Albert King’s Angel of Mercy he has the crowd in the palm of his hand. Drummer Anton Fig closes the song with a thrilling drum solo which leaves the audience absolutely spellbound and with no doubt that Joe’s claims that he is pound-for-pound the best drummer in the world ring true.

After Joe has introduced each and every band member and respectfully give them every ounce of credit they deserve, it’s almost unexpected that he would then go on to play 2 of his own songs: Love Ain’t a Love Song and Dust Bowl, and this is actually a very interesting characteristic of tonight's show. The fact is that Joe has an incredibly strong body of his own material yet he chooses to play the songs of his heroes. It is entirely respectful and selfless of him to put his own songs to one side to enable him to tip his hat to his idols and those who have inspired him.

As the show progresses, we become acutely aware that there is something quite majestic about a Joe Bonamassa performance. The way he creates such an ethereal mood is quite an emotive experience. Overall it's a show that has left the audience hanging on every single elongated string bend, as if in almost slow motion we will him and follow his path to reaching pitch-perfect. The talent this man displays is truly astonishing and can perhaps only have been achieved with a lifetime of focus to the point of absolute obsession and to the exclusion of everything else.

The final song tonight is Hummingbird, a very fitting conclusion to an incredible show that once again keeps the music of BB King very much alive.

As the final bows are taken and we make our way to the exit, there is once again a huge commotion in the foyer: an excited stampede to the t shirt stand.

The full set list was as follows:-

This Train

Mountain Climbing

Blues of Desperation 

No Good Place for the Lonely

How Deep This River Runs

Boogie with Stu

Never Make Your Move Too Soon

Angel of Mercy

Love Ain’t a Love Song

Dust Bowl

Little Girl


Black Winter/Django

How Many More Times


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