Joe Bonamassa played the Fox Theatre in Atlanta on Friday night and treated the almost full venue to more than two hours of some of the purest guitar playing blues and rock seen there in recent years. Bonamassa masterfully entertained and enthralled an audience with a polished, refined performance that, at times, defied superlatives.
Technically, Bonamassa is as good a guitarist as there is but it’s the emotion that he manages to extract from his instrument that separates him from many of his contemporaries. His teasing and coaxing of his various guitars and their rise and fall in response to his touch created such raw emotion that it moved someone in the audience to suggest that he and his guitar should get a room!
During the course of his set on Friday Bonamassa referred to the Fox as ‘a gem’ of a venue; visually it is a magnificently beautiful auditorium but for performers it has the added appeal of being able to cleanly and faithfully represent the music being created on stage. Bonamassa took full advantage of the acoustics offered by the Fox and combined those with some excellent sound mixing to provide the audience with a sound that was so clean there was no danger of misinterpretation and no worries of a muddied sound.
Backed by a five-piece band with Michael Rhodes on Bass, Reese Wynans on keyboards, Anton Fig on drums, Paulie Cerra on Saxophone and Lee Thornburg on Trumpet, Bonamassa has surrounded himself with talented musicians who know how and when to improvise to encourage Bonamassa himself to new heights. “Happier Times” was such a number with the drums and keyboards combining to anchor and induce Bonamassa’s crescendos through the song.
In addition to that highlight Bonamassa played a set that combined some of his best songs with some cover versions of some of his favorite blues songs of previous eras. Other great moments were “I Gave Up Everything For You, ‘Cept the Blues” and “Going Down” while “Ballad of John Henry” was as good as live music could get.
If you haven’t see Joe Bonamassa live, you should! His ability to interpret songs and create emotion in his guitar playing makes the audience’s musical appreciation something much more tangible and much more personal for them. Rather than just listening to the music the audience experience it! There are few artists today that can provide a more enveloping musical experience for the audience. The evening proved be a very rare and incredible musical experience.
See See Baby
(Freddie King cover)
Never Make Your Move Too Soon (B.B. King cover)
Angel of Mercy (Albert King cover)
Going Down (Freddie King cover)
I Gave Up Everything for You, ‘Cept the Blues
Double Trouble (Otis Rush cover)
Breaking Up Somebody’s Home (Albert King cover)
Love Ain’t a Love Song
Sloe Gin (Tim Curry cover)
The Ballad of John Henry
All Aboard (Muddy Waters cover)