For blues rock, a genre not known for restraint, the live format release is something fans often crave, capturing the artist in all their decibel drenched glory. And, in his relatively short career, Joe Bonamassa has given his followers what they want, punctuating his studio work with fine examples of his stagecraft. This two CD set is taken from his 2011 date at The Beacon Theatre, New York, and totally justifies the longer running time pulling in star guests who showcase previously unheard collaborations.
Bonamassa, a bonafide workaholic, has the envious task of cherry-picking much loved moments from his oeuvre and ‘If Heartaches Were Nickels’, ‘Mountain Time’ and ‘Cradle Rock’ get fresh outings. The latter, a Rory Gallagher showstopper, sounds particularly cavernous. These tracks alone are reason enough for guitar retailers to raise their hands in celebration.
His evergreen ‘Dust Bowl’ album is plundered during the first half for ‘Slow Train’, ‘You Better Watch Yourself’ and the title track, adding muscle of a different sort. This is then neatly juxtaposed alongside two incendiary soulful moments with Beth Hart from last year’s ‘Don’t Explain’ collection. If you want further versatility, check out the coolness of the opening self-penned solo piece, ‘St Subway Blues’. At the other end of the spectrum comes a piledriving take on the classic, ‘Young Man Blues’.
The stage invites continue with Bonamassa not quite connecting with the dynamism Kossoff could when Paul Rodgers joins him for Free’s ‘Walk In My Shadows’ and ‘Fire And Water’. Sounding better are the tension filled stories of John Hiatt’s with Joe’s guitar full of majestic power against John’s wiry husk of a voice.
Bonamassa is bluesman for the modern age who challenges the perceptions of his chosen field. And it works: drawing in fans at a furious pace can only be a good thing for the blues. One thing’s for sure, he knows how to put on a show!