The Hollywood Bowl is one of the best venues to catch a concert. So be sure to put this on your bucket list when visiting LA. However, Joe Bonamassa the exceptional Blues Maestro may be coming to a city near you. Keep your eyes peeled, cause you don’t want to miss him. Enjoy the review by staff writer Keith Block.
Joe Bonamassa means business. This week at the Hollywood Bowl, the blues maestro kicked off his show promptly at 8pm behind his trademark dark shades. Fresh off his 26th stop atop Billboard’s blues album chart — and back from a European tour, the show was a monumental one for the 46-year-old virtuoso who opened for B.B. King at age 8. It marked Bonamassa’s debut at the legendary venue, where he performed alongside an orchestra – also, for the first time.
Joe Bonamassa Blues Maestro
Before the orchestra joined, Bonamassa and his brilliant band played a 45-minute set of songs that ranged from “Dust Bowl” from his 2011 album of the same name to one of his latest singles “I Want to Shout About It.” What was apparent from the start was Bonamassa and his band’s talent, his love of the guitar and the masters he draws inspiration from. The expert performer changed his guitar after every song which makes sense since he reportedly lives with over 500 guitars in his LA house.
The show was a homecoming for the veteran blues man who recalled playing the Mint in West L.A. on Pico and Crescent Heights 20 years ago “and now look at me, I am playing the Hollywood Bowl with an orchestra!” He mentioned that his family was in the audience and “maybe now his parents think he’s a success.” Funny stuff coming from “arguably the world’s biggest blues guitarist,” according to Guitar World.
After a short intermission, the band returned for a 75-minute set with the orchestra. They opened with an overture version of “When One Door Opens” off Bonnamasa’s excellent 2020 album Royal Tea. It was a thrill to see him play and interact with the orchestra and deliver on his promise to play “some really nice orchestrations of songs that people haven’t heard before.”
Joe Bonamassa’s Inspiration
Throughout the set, he acknowledged his sterling predecessors – Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck — and American blues legends Buddy Guy, Robert Johnson, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He also acknowledged the team that helped produce the show.
For Bonamassa, the link to the elder statesmen is very real, since his stellar band includes Hall of Fame keyboardist Reese Wynans. He has played in Bonamassa’s band for almost a decade and who made his last appearance at the Hollywood Bowl in 1986 with Steve Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble. According to Bonamassa, “He’s a living legend, and honestly, he’s playing as good as he’s ever played for his career, he gets the biggest applause of the night, deservedly so. He’s just one-of-a kind.” Another standout from the band was back up singer Jade MacRae. She channeled Clare Tory’s epic performance on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” during the band’s performance of “If Heartaches Were Nickels.”
Overall, this performance by the enormously respected bluesman was very special. The orchestral arrangements created a huge full sound that had Joe displaying his prodigious gifts. His virtuoso guitar style, unique technique, a strong voice sounded great mixed with the backup singers and a showmen’s flair. Therefore elevating the evening to a magic one-of-a-kind performance.
With the upcoming release of Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 in October, the blues-rock titan has come full circle. The release comes 20 years after the original Blues Deluxe album hit the shelves. The record that defined the direction of his future career. How appropriate – the classics never change. I told you the man means business, and I can’t wait to see where the next 20 years takes him. Visit the Hollywood Bowl website for more upcoming shows – https://www.hollywoodbowl.com/