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ConcertsJoe Bonamassa @ National Indoor Arena, Birmingham UK, 09/27/13

Posted on Tuesday, October 01 2013 @ 09:52:36 CDT by Dean Pedley
General Billed as the 'Guitar event of the year' Joe Bonamassa's recent tour of the UK saw the versatile guitarist performing in arena sized venues, a remarkable achievement for the blues rock genre as a whole and testimony to just how far he has come in terms of appealing to an increasingly ever more appreciative audience. The tour is the culmination of another successful year for Bonamassa after an historic four night stand in London back in May, chronicling his ascent from the clubs to the iconic Royal Albert Hall. Sea of Tranquility staff writer Dean Pedley reports from the show at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena.

Comments from previous shows on the tour had suggested excessively loud volume levels, indicating it had rendered the feeling, emotion and subtleties of Bonamassa's playing difficult to discern. Thankfully there are no such problems in Birmingham as every note is crystal clear across a near two and a half hour set, the first twenty odd minutes of which are delivered acoustically. A stark cover of 'Seagull' confirms Bonamassa is no Paul Rodgers, but then neither does he need to be; Gary Moore, Hendrix and Stevie Ray are his heroes and will not be remembered for their singing. Without a pause the electric set is ushered in by the moody slow burn of 'Dust Bowl', the guitarist now joined by Black Country Communion's Derek Sherinian and his rhythm section of Carmine Rojas and Tal Bergman.

A mix of self-penned material and well chosen covers provide just the right amount of pacing, allowing the band time to stretch out and jam at their leisure on Gary Moore's 'Midnight Blues' and Freddie King's 'Look Over Yonders Wall'. Bonamassa is joined by another Les Paul exponent Bernie Marsden on the latter, providing the former Whitesnake guitarist with the opportunity to remind everyone he can still solo with the best of them. 'Story of a Quarryman' and 'Driving towards the Daylight' evidence there is more to the evening than stunning guitar virtuosity, Bonamassa can also write great tunes. But for a sheer display of raw power then the segue from BCC's 'Song of Yesterday' into 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is a roof raising high point.

Signature song 'Sloe Gin' is preceded by an amusing anecdote of the outraged response when it was temporarily left out of the set; performed "for the umpteenth time" it remains both smooth and smoldering in what is a slightly re-worked form. Similarly 'The Ballad of John Henry' has been arranged to showcase some sizzling Zeppelin-esque interplay from Bonamassa and Sherinian, rounding off what truly was a stellar performance. Embraced as the finest guitarist of his generation, for UK audiences Joe Bonamassa can simply do no wrong.

Palm Trees Helicopters and Gasoline
Jelly Roll
Athens To Athens
Woke Up Dreaming
Dust Bowl
Story of a Quarryman
Who's Been Talking?
Someday After A While
Dislocated Boy
Driving Towards The Daylight
Slow Train
Midnight Blues
Look Over Yonders Wall
Song of Yesterday / Won't Get Fooled Again
Django / Mountain Time
Sloe Gin
The Ballad Of John Henry

Words by Dean Pedley
Images by kind permission of Sean Larkin of Sean Larkin Photography
With thanks to Noble PR

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