“Wow two years has passed since the show at the Albert Hall. I am sitting on a bus going from Zurich to Antwerp thinking about how much my life has changed since that night. Thank you very much for making that show so special to me and welcoming me into your homes and especially your hearts. Classic story: boy from upstate New York gets his big night, but what they forget to mention is the hundreds of thousands of people who put me there in the first place. I couldn’t have done it without fans like you and all your support ”
– Joe Bonamassa
Review by: Guitar Noize
The Royal Albert Hall has always been an extra special venue, although it only holds about 5000 and has terrible acoustics hence the retro-fit mushrooms on the ceiling, it still seems to have the ability to coax great perfomances. When I think of the Albert Hall I think of The Proms or the classic concerts of the 60’s from Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, so I was really excited to receive my copy of ‘Joe Bonamassa Live From The Albert Hall’ to see if this stunning venue could create the same kind of mojo for Joe.
The concert filmed on May 9th 2009 opens with some ethereal synth chords from Rick Mellick who is the only person lit in a pitch black hall as you see Joe preparing himself backstage. The track is the instrumental ‘Django’ which Joe describes as something he wrote in the style of Jeff Beck and has long been a favourite of mine. Joe struts out onto stage with a signature Gibson Les Paul Goldtop in hand playing the melody to a standing ovation. Then the dual drummers Bogie Bowles and Anton Fig play a fill each before playing the rest of the intro fill in unison which sounds and looks spectacular. The last time I saw anyone using 2 drummers was Phil Collins in the 80’s, on TV I might add and my memory is a little sketchy it might have been Live Aid or something. Quite an intro, the blues equivalent to rock concert pyrotechnics!
The DVD package is divided up into 2 discs each containing 9 tracks many of which from his latest album ‘The Ballad Of John Henry’ which I was happy about because firstly it is a great album and second many bands don’t play too many tracks from their latest album as they say the fans want to hear the old classics. Now that is not to say Joe doesn’t have old tracks fans want to hear and there are a few included such as ‘Sloe Gin’, ‘Blues Deluxe’ and ‘Woke Up Dreaming’ this track is actually an extra but I’m not sure why it wasn’t included in the main performance section. The tracks from ‘The Ballad of John Henry’ include the title track itself, ‘Last Kiss’, ‘Stop!’, ‘Lonesome Road Blues’, ‘Happier Times’, ‘Story Of A Quarryman’ and ‘The Great Flood’. Every track is played to perfection, I don’t think Joe is capable of making a mistake, and there are some magic moments throughout.
There is a special guest appearance from the legendary Eric Clapton who seems totally at ease walking out onto the hallowed stage, mind you he should be he sold out 9 consecutive nights recently and has been playing the Albert Hall since the 60’s! It’s cool to see Eric playing with Joe and it is hard not to get overshadowed by Joe’s amazing playing, phrasing and tone but Eric has such a great voice and says more with a few notes than most people can with 100. It is hard not to be inspired by Clapton as Joe certainly was. It is a great moment seeing these two trading licks. It certainly shows how stylish and mature Joe’s playing is which I don’t think has been seen since Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Joe pulls out a nice selection of guitars for the event from the Signature Goldtop to an Ernie Ball baritone to a Flying V. I was disappointed though not to see the Ernie Ball double-neck which I thought was built for this concert. The Flying V does seem to bring out the rocker in Joe as he blasts into a note perfect rendition of the solo from Led Zeppelin’s Dazed & Confused during the song ‘Just Got Paid’ and ends with Joe standing on top of his amps in true rock ‘n roll style.
The DVD also includes a bonus interview with Joe filmed on his tour bus sat with Les Paul in hand plugged into a Marshall Class 5 Combo and boy is this a great ad for Marshall, it sounds really nice and will probably responsible for quite a few sales.
At the start of the DVD Joe says when he was a kid he watched Cream at the Royal Albert Hall and decided right there and then that he didn’t want a proper job, he wanted to play guitar for a living and play the Albert Hall. I have a feeling that this DVD will inspire a new generation to follow that dream.