Joe Bonamassa, The Borderline, London
Wednesday 27 March 2013
"Thank you for sticking with me all these years," the 35-year-old bluesman acknowledges to his loyal fans before the encore. Occasionally, however, it was a bit of a struggle "sticking" with this two-hour encounter.
The gifted guitarist was a child prodigy who by the age of 10 was being heralded by the likes of BB King who announced "This kid’s potential is unbelievable. He hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface. He’s one of a kind.” Quite a lot of pressure then, but Joe Bonamassa has delivered with 13 solo albums, the latest of which, Driving Towards The Daylight, debuted at No 2 in the UK charts, and has memorably duetted with Eric Clapton at a barnstorming 2009 gig at the Albert Hall.
Tonight the dapper New Yorker, who is sporting David Caruso-style shades, delivers a noodle-fest of mid-tempo, 12-bar blues in front of a gently nodding, predominantly male crowd (approximately 95% man), most of whom are attentively studying Bonamassa's guitar licks. It's an exceptionally intimate performance, which is being filmed in front of 200 people, and it's the first and smallest of four consecutive London performances, culminating at the Royal Albert Hall.
The axe man has often proclaimed his love of English bluesmen - the likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck (he covers "Spanish Boots" here), Clapton, John Mayall - more than American exponents such as Buddy Guy and Robert Cray. Blues that are more glum in Godalming than wading through the muddy waters of the Mississippi Delta perhaps. However, that's not quite right, as Bonamassa, with his aggressive, choppy guitar style, can be a curious blend of Anglo and American styles. He can even embrace the unruly pastoral folk of Jethro Tull, and we could have down with a bit more Tull here.
The highlights arrive much later in the set with his break-up track "Miss You/Hate You", a song he wrote "about his first serious girlfriend" and which evokes John Cougar Mellencamp and mid-1980s Bruce Hornsby. The taciturn performer follows it up with the stupendous "The River" (on which he laments "Down by the river/ That's where I broke down and cried"), a robust blues stomp.
Quite often this felt like the sort of standard blues you'd hear in any Chicago bar on a Tuesday night. However, his devotees hang on his every chord and Bonamassa's vocals are, for the most part, beefy and compelling. One suspects that everything will be finely honed by the time he arrives at the Albert Hall.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after that Wembley Stadium rant
Blink-182 split: Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful' say Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus
Emma Watson to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia