Album Reviews

Joe Bonamassa

Live At Radio City Music Hall

Artist:     Joe Bonamassa

Album:     Live At Radio City Music Hall

Label:     J&R Adventures

Release Date:     10/02/2015


One of the most gifted and stirring artists rooted in the blues/rock guitar realm has new music out—which is no surprise. With everything else Joe Bonamassa does like a champ, he also co-owns a music label and releases albums like clockwork. A man with his incredible flair? No complaint there. Plus, he branches out terrifically, with an obvious fervent feeling for every direction he takes. Maybe it’s an extravaganza in Amsterdam with Beth Hart belting out R&B, or Gaelic-world-blues-inflected acoustic heaven in Vienna with a crew of ringers from both sides of the pond. At New York’s Beacon Theater, Bonamassa burned up some Free with Paul Rodgers, and some John Hiatt with the man himself. He plays in a hardcore funk band, and used to tear it up in a heavy metal super group. Lately he’s been honoring Muddy and the Wolf and the three Kings of the blues the world over. Whatever the entertainment for the evening, Joe Bonamassa nails it, playing muscular, very tasty guitar, and conducting whatever kind of band with remarkable aplomb.

For all his skills and determination, Bonamassa earned the privilege of playing his home state’s most prestigious venue. Live At Radio City Music Hall finds the one time “Smokin’ Joe” kid prodigy from upstate New York leading the utmost players from his acoustic and blues rockin’ bands through two distinct sets. Everyone rose to the occasion. The video portion of the deluxe CD/DVD package features nearly the entire show, the CD an abbreviated, rearranged set. Among the highlights are Bonamassa’s larger-than-life “Dust Bowl” and jaunty “Trouble Town,” followed by a gentle take on Daniel Lanois’ “Still Water.” Reese Wynans– of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble fame– plays sparkling piano throughout. Gerry O’Connor’s fiddle and Mats Wester’s mandola offer the songs a richness and vibrancy missing in their heavy-duty guises. Bonamassa explodes during the electric selections, with the brand-new, rolling and brass-fired “One Less Cross to Bear” especially standing out. The audio crackles with energy, and the package includes a large booklet full of information. Keep ‘em coming and keep ‘em smokin’, whatever which way you like, Joe.

– Tom Clarke

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