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Review: "British Blues Explosion Live" - Joe Bonamassa

by Andy Snipper,

As those who will be interested in this album already know, Joe Bonamassa is a self-confessed ‘Guitar nerd’ with a deep and abiding passion for the history of Blues guitar as well as his great love of the tech itself.

Over the last few years he has done a number of ‘specials’ including his duets with Beth Hart, playing acoustic in Vienna and his 4 venue tour a couple of years back where he revisited the shows that made his reputation.

In 2017 he performed one of his specials at London’s historic Greenwich, playing the classics by Clapton, Page, Beck et al that have been such an influence on him.

Ok, so that is the history. What it doesn’t say is that this was a remarkable performance by one of the modern greats. Yes, he was paying homage but there isn’t a moment here that doesn’t have the Bonamassa sound as well as looking fondly at the origins of his music.

From the moment he works his way into Jeff Beck’s ‘Beck’s Bolero /Rice Pudding’ with Anton Fig leading in with a Bolero riff on the drums and his melodic guitar carrying the rest of the band towards the climactic on-stage jam around his playing and Reese Wynans keyboards you are transported to the very heart of Blues/Rock guitar.

To a large extent he has avoided the ‘obvious’ numbers, rather concentrating on numbers that have significance to him but that demonstrate the talents of his heroes. ‘Boogie With Stu’ or ‘Plynth’ show his passion for Page and Beck’s playing and a great version of ‘Double Crossing Time’ from Clapton’s origins with John Mayall really show why ‘Clapton is God’ was painted on walls around London back in the day. ‘SWLABR’ is played with massive passion and while the lyrics are as unintelligible as ever, it makes sense musically.

It’s pointless detailing every track. Suffice it to say that his playing is a powerful and subtle as ever and that the band behind him play their socks off. The number selection takes in some of the absolute classics as well as some of the lesser known but equally important numbers from the best of British Blues.

4 out of 5.