The born New Yorker — Joe Bonamassa — has been playing since the age of four, gigging since the age of twelve.
He’s played all over the world, from the Beacon Theatre on Broadway to the Royal Albert Hall in London, from Vienna’s Opera House to the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado.
But one place has eluded him. It’s the Showplace of the Nation — the world famous “Radio City Music Hall” in Manhattan.
But in January 2015 Bonamassa took to the iconic Great Stage himself — for the first time — for a sold-out, two-night run that allowed him to realize his life-long dream.
It will be released as a DVD + CD set, Blu-Ray + CD set and 2 LP vinyl + MP3 download on Provogue in the UK.
The set features over 75 minutes of music, two newly recorded songs, nine unreleased live tracks, over 2.5 hours of live footage, and a special 45-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.
Plus a 40-page collector’s book with exclusive photos, and a sneak peek into Bonamassa’s childhood home and musical heritage. Everything is beautifully presented in a superbly designed package.
The “Radio City” shows were the culmination and the finale of Bonamassa’s special half acoustic/half electric tour, which he had show-cased around the world for the past year and half.
The first set has Bonamassa alongside the acoustic band “The Huckleberries” playing numbers from “An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House (Live) – Joe Bonamassa.”
He then shifts into regular electric mode for the stunning second half with his touring band.
The CD opens with a cover of the Muddy Waters ‘Aristocrat’ number “I Can’t Be Satisfied” which has a lively rhythm and demonstrative guitar-work.
Here, the gritty voice of Bonamassa is the centre of attention for much of the number — though the elegant and slippery keyboard work from Reese Wynan helps to loosen the joints a bit. Not that this is inflexible and ungenerous, it just needs help to decompress a little.
“One Less Cross to Bear” is much more strongly earthy. It’s uptempo and horned out — (Lee Thornburg on trumpet & Nick Lane on trombone.) With a petticoat tearing flounce, this is exciting and indestructible.
There also a fantastic drum/percussion solo ( Tal Bergman with Lenny Castro. ) And the number is completed by the red, inflamed tingling of guitar from Bonamassa himself — which blazes across the boundaries.
“Dust Bowl” is one of the acoustic numbers performed at “Radio City”. This crowd favourite is jangled and stippled here. It has a sweeping sage-brush embrace and a mop of melody.
This is where Bonamassa reveals that his voice can be convincingly emotional.
The song builds into something far bigger than the sum of it’s parts: with bristlecone mandolin work from Gerry O’Connor, rose-bellied keys from Reese Wynans, choice mandola from Mats Wester and hot, switchgrass percussion from Lenny Castro.
“So, What Would I Do?” from the ‘Different Shades of Blue’ LP befits the distinguished surroundings. It’s elegant and chic. Without being overstated.
Starting with Reese Wynans’ perfectly tailored keyboards, then promising brass; Lee Thornburg (trumpet) Nick Lane (trombone) and Paulie Cerra (sax) — this strides modestly towards a satisfying and expressive climax.
Never short of blues-energy and with much improved vocals from the man himself — this collection abounds with elegance and dynamism.
Here are collar and tie numbers that are spree enough to make you smile and wanna dance. But also distinct and elegant enough to make you yearn to hear them again-and-again.
Words: @neilmach 2015 ©