Joe Bonamassa Vicar Street, Dublin – 30th June
Vicar Street, Dublin – 30th June
Boogie with Joe…
HE’S been a guitar maestro for longer than most of us can remember, a 39-year-old six-string genius, who performed live for the first time at the age of 12 opening up for BB King.
And, when he came to Dublin’s Vicar Street the man showed why so many worship every live lick he lays down.
The show was part of Bonamassa’s British Blue Explosion Tour, a tribute to the bands and guitarists that shaped his style and sound. Sure, there was mostly cover versions, but when you cover songs that doesn’t mean you can’t better them.
From Jeff Beck, to Eric Clapton, to Jimmy Page the New York state born axeman grabbed there songs and wrestled each bit of emotion from the originals and added flourish upon flourish.
Audaciously opening with Beck’s ‘Bolero’ Bonamassa is the epitome of cool, besuited with slick shades and his guitar’s sound torn into rapturous sounds.
Jaws were dropping across the auditorium as the audience stood in admiration. When you follow that with Clapton’s ‘Mainline Florida’ you knew this was a special gig.
Reese Wyan’s sumptuous Hammond organ sounds added to the overall bluesy feel, a nod to the Transatlantic birth of the 1960s Brit Blue sound.
Anton Fig’s drums were precise, while Michael Rhodes, on bass, was allowed the space to add his own touches to the classics.
Cream’s ‘SWALBR’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Boogie With Stu’, and Beck’s ‘Spanish Boots’ were highlights in terms of songs, but the true highlight was Bonamassa’s playing.
He has a fluidity that is not compromised in favour of tonality, licks and riffs matching solo touches that added when necessary and remained faithful to the original when required.
Even when giving his unique touch to Zep’s ‘Can’t Quit You Baby’ he reached back to Page’s early blues influences, passing back in time to the 40s and 50s blues players.
Whether it was a Les Paul, an E335, a Telecaster or a Strat, they were not just instruments in his hands, rather tools of expression.
Musicians come and go, but the blues remain a constant. But what is sure is that Bonamassa’s Dublin show will live long in the memory of the sold out show.
Of course, with 15 solo albums to his credit meant that while this was a tribute to his influences he chose to end the shoe with one of his own tracks. ‘Sloe Gin’ was a perfect way to end an evening that showed real greatness in a guitar player.
As the crowd emerged, blinking, into the late summer night’s sky the word “legend” was uttered by many. Few people truly deserve that accolade, but Joe Bonamassa might be one that truly has earned it.
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