What if Joe Bonamassa did a full concert’s worth of covers by one classic artist, Like Jimi Hendrix?
Or maybe it’s Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, B.B. King or Howlin’ Wolf. But imagine: You buy tickets to an upcoming Joe show, and you can’t wait. You get to the venue and race your way to your seats just in time to catch the opening of the set.
The sound of idle chatter fills the air until suddenly the house lights go down and a roar erupts from the crowd. Joe takes the stage and suddenly your heart feels like it’s going to explode out of your chest. What will he open with?? “Slow Train?” “Two Minutes to Midnight?” “Oh Beautiful!” You can’t wait as you anticipate his fingers about to pick out the electric first notes of this magical night.
But something unexpected suddenly happens. You recognize the first tune, but it’s not one of those Joe Bonamassa staples – its “Purple Haze,” the scorching psychedelic Jimi Hendrix rocker. You’re so excited at the surprise you think, “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy!” The song rages to a dramatic close and you’re ready to get back to the classics. Bring on Sloe Gin! Play Dust Bowl!
But then things get really odd. Joe strums the first few chords of the next tune and it’s “Little Wing” another legendary Jimi Hendrix too. “Great song!” you think… “but this getting weird now.” And as the night progresses, a full concert’s worth of classic Hendrix songs is unleashed and played with sizzling virtuosity by perhaps the only man around who can do Jimi Hendrix justice these days.
Were this to occur, Joe would not be the first marquee artist to engage in such a musical operation. In fact, just recently, Gov’t Mule announced that they would be releasing an album of a concert performed in Boston consisting of a night’s worth of Pink Floyd covers. And for years, Phish has celebrated Halloween by treating its audience to a “musical costume” in the middle of their show, playing a classic rock album straight through from beginning to finish.
For my money, I would be pretty excited for Joe to try this once or twice, especially if it consisted of music from an artist I really like. Of course, there’s always the risk that he would play something that was not to my taste or to an artist I was unfamiliar with. But even in those cases, I think Joe would a find a way to make the music his own and shine a light on it in a way that would make me appreciate its inherent goodness. Or at least he would infuse it with an awesome dose of Bonamassa-ness.
It would be overkill and ruin the surprise if this kind of thing were to happen too often, but I think if it were to occur once or even a few times it would create a very special, memorable evening that might even be worth of a live CD release. On the other hand, if all we ever get in the future is our regular evening of Joe Bonamassa exhileration and virtuosity without a special covers theme, well, that’s pretty damn good too.
– Brian R.