Photos by Arnold Goodman
When usually reserved guitar legend in the making Joe Bonamassa stepped onto the stage of the legendary Radio City Music Hall, he declared that it was a “dream come true.” And indeed, the New Hartford, NY born blues guitar icon described being on that stage as one of the “most incredible experiences” for both himself and his family, who were in attendance.
He opened the two-plus hour, 22-song show with a nine-song acoustic set, an array of six acoustic guitars next to him as he sat on the sparsely lit stage, accompanied by Irish fiddler Gerry O’Connor, keyboardist Reese Wynans, percussionist Lenny Castro and nyckelharpa master Mats Wester. Highlights were Daniel Lanois’ “Still Water,” “Slow Train” and “Black Lung Heartache,” all of which amply demonstrated Bonamassa’s prowess on the slide guitar.
After a brief intermission, the electric set found bassist Carmine Rojas, drummer Tal Bergman and a three piece horn section on the stage, along with Joe Bonamassa and the other band members from the first act. The performance was not only musically enrapturing, but also visually stunning. The set design included Art Deco era music stands bearing the Bonamassa logo, backlit with soft lighting that changed colors during the powerful set. There were Bonamassa classics like “The Ballad of John Henry” and Tim Curry’s “Sloe Gin,” along with new gems “Living On The Moon,” “Oh Beautiful” and “So, What Would I Do” from Bonamassa’s latest album, Different Shades of Blue.
This performance, which was taped for a forthcoming concert DVD, marked his last show in the United States before he’ll continue the tour in Australia, Europe, the UK and aboard the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship, eventually heading back to North America in the spring of 2015. The globally growing number of Joe Bonamassa music lovers will be able to share this outstanding concert when the DVD gets released, but until that happens, you might want to make every effort to get to one of his upcoming concerts on the current tour.
– Howard B. Leibowitz