Words by Marco Denzer | Photo by Carl Scheffel/MSG Photos
Guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa returned to New York City on Thursday for the first of a three night run at the Beacon Theatre. It was early evening still and the theater doors hadn’t opened yet, but a long line of fans eagerly waiting to enter had already gathered outside the famed Upper West Side venue.
The house lights dimmed promptly at 8:00 PM and the show began with an orchestra recording that sounded very similar to Monty Norman’s James Bond theme, it was cool and elegant. The tune quickly faded into a few bars of blues, a form of recognition and praise for blues legend Muddy Waters, and finally the stage lights came on to reveal a sharply dressed Joe Bonamassa standing there with beautiful red thin hollow body Gibson in hand.
Joe kicked things off with a great up-tempo version of Muddy Water’s “Tiger in Your Tank” that was pure magic, and by doing so established a rock solid foundation for the rest of his set. It was all about paying homage to his musical roots with style and finesse, and establishing that the night was going to be all about the blues.
From that point forward, Bonamassa and his incredibly talented band, including trumpeter Lee Thornburg, keyboardist Reese Wynans, and bassist Michael Rhodes to name a few, played approximately six or seven songs before stopping to greet the crowd, introduce the band members and express his joy for returning to the Beacon Theater. “After many years of playing in New York City venues like the Cat Club, Mercury Lounge, Radio City Music Hall and other places, it’s great to have made the Beacon our home” he stated.
Aside from his amazing skills on the guitar, Joe’s choice in repertoire clearly demonstrated his natural ability to straddle a wide range of influences and periods if you will. And the noticeable shades of styles he bridges during the show, while still remaining firmly grounded in his musical roots, made it clear that he’s not just an awesome blues player, but an ever evolving student and master musician of the genre.
On stage Bonamassa was extremely focused and passionate during his performance, and very charming and witty during his interaction with the audience. He played some seven or eight different vintage guitars during the show, a very small sampling from a vast collection that would make any guitar geek weak in the knees, including multiple Gibson Les Pauls, a couple of Fender Strats, and a Gibson Firebird 1 to name a few. He’s a master at using the tone and harmonic accents of each instrument to weave a personal thread of history, talent and showmanship into every moment of the concert and the audience loved him for it.
The night’s lengthy setlist included titles like “King Bee Shakedown”, “Evil Mama”, “Sloe Gin” and an absolutely heart felt rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Tea For One/I Can’t Quit You Baby” in addition to several others that had the crowd on its feet by the end of the night.
Joe Bonamassa and his band will continue with an extensive tour schedule through the end of this year, and they will continue in 2020 with a long list of shows in the U.S. and Europe.
TheWaster.com | NYC