Joe Bonamassa Concert Review
Usher Hall Edinburgh 18/04/2017

Hailed as one of the hardest working musicians in the current music scene, Joe Bonamassa has come to light as one of the best contemporary Bluesmen of his era. Playing guitar since an early age and mentored by many greats he has risen to a status reserved for the likes of his predecessors such as BB King, Gary Moore and many other guitar legends.

With this in mind we set of to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, a mid-sized venue in the city centre. Arriving just when the doors opened I was able to get a front row spot for what surely was going to be the “Guitar Event of the Year” as advertised on the auditorium posters outside the venue.

The concert started punctually at 8p.m to the thundering roar of the crowd whilst Joe broke into “This Train” the first track from his new album “Blues of Desperation.” A rocking track driven the to beat of a fast moving train, which hints a reference to the many train inspired Blues tracks of days gone by. He then moved onto other tracks with a mix of his own compositions such as the heavy riff laden “Mountain Climbing” or “How Deep this River Runs” also from the new album. This was contrasted with covers from acts as diverse as B.B King with “Hummingbird”, Led Zeppelin with “How Many More Times” or my personal favourite a great rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Pretending” from the Journeyman album. Joe does make these covers his own and adds his styles and variations to these timeless classics.

Amazingly Joe does not stop at all between songs, with minimal gaps. He played for nearly 2 hours 20 mins and aside from his tech “feeding” him guitars and the occasional “thank you”, the only break in the performance was the band intros about two thirds into the show. No need for flashy light shows or pyrotechnics either it was all about the music.

Music aside Joe sported quite a number of tasty guitars much to the delight of the many musicians in the audience. For this tour he seems to using a mixture of vintage and signature guitars, such as his Signature Pelham Blue Gibson Signature Les Paul, Pelham Blue Firebird (which I especially liked cue this space for a purchase/review coming soon), or even a Sunburst Epiphone Firebird for one track.

The vintage presences was strong though with several a well-used Sunburst Stratocaster, 2 x Telecasters  (One with Bigsby) from Fender, and Les Pauls,  a 335, Two Firebirds and a show stopping Flying V also on show from his Gibson stable.

As for amps a several small tweed Fenders where used as is now is preference for this tour as opposed to his usual Marshalls , and these had Perspex shielding to avoid bleed-through in the front areas of the audience.

A great show indeed after which I had to go home practice for many hours and Google Pelham Blue Firebirds.

Band Members

·         Joe Bonamassa: Guitars and Lead Vocals
·         Reese Wynans  Keyboards
·         Anton Fig: Drums
·         Michael Rhodes Bass
·         Lee Thornburg Trumpet
·         Paulie Cerra Saxophone.
·         Jade Macrae: Backing Vocals
·         Mahalia Barnes: Backing Vocals

Full Set List with Guitars Used.

·         This Train (Blues of Desperation Album) – Sunburst Fender Stratocaster (Vintage)
·         Mainline Florida (Eric Clapton cover) – Sunburst Fender Stratocaster (Vintage)
·         Mountain Climbing (Blues of Desperation) – Pelham Blue Gibson Firebird (Signature)
·         Blues of Desperation (Blues of Desperation) - Pelham Blue Gibson Les Paul (Signature)
·         No Good Place for the Lonely (Blues of Desperation)  - Gibson Les Paul (Vintage)
·         How Deep This River Runs (Blues of Desperation) – Gibson Les Paul (Vintage)
·         Boogie With Stu (Cover: Led Zeppelin) – Fender Telecaster w/Bigsby & Neck Humbucker (Vintage)
·         Never Make Your Move Too Soon (Cover: B.B. King) Gibson Flying V (Vintage)
·         Angel of Mercy (Cover: Albert King) Gibson Flying V (Vintage)
·         Love Ain't a Love Song (Different Shades of Blue) – Sunburst Fender Stratocaster (Vintage)
·         Dust Bowl (Dust Bowl) - - Sunburst Stratocaster (Vintage)
·         Little Girl (John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers) – Black Gibson 335 with Bigsby (Vintage)
·         Pretending, (Eric Clapton) - Black Gibson 335 with Bigsby (Vintage)
·         Black Winter/ Django (Instrumental) – Epiphone Firebird (Signature)
·         How Many More Times (Cover: Led Zeppelin)  - Fender Telecaster w/Neck Humbucker (Vintage)
·         Hummingbird (Cover: B.B.King) - Sunburst Fender Stratocaster (Vintage)

By Ernest H Slade