Joe Bonamassa performing his Performing Live Tour at The Birmingham Barclaycard Arena on Saturday 19th March 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Joe Bonamassa was back in the UK to fulfil a commitment that ill health prevented him from completing when he last toured the UK in October 2015. And the Birmingham Barclaycard Arena was very lucky that he had decided to pop in on this mini tour.

With a 4000 capacity crowd eager to see this great maestro at work, they were not disappointed. Starting proceedings with a spot light focussed on the stage which illuminated keyboard player Reese Wynans as he played a duel piano and electric organ solo, before the lights came up and Joe Bonamassa stood there with just guitar in hand, and the magical journey began.

Bursting into opening track Locomotive, he kicked started the evening. Bonamassa has released his latest album, Blues Of Desperation, and the first four songs were tracks showcasing that album; and a pretty good job he did too. This Train and Mountain Climbing displayed his ever improving vocals whilst the title track of the new album had this crowd in his hands.

There were old favourites See You Baby and Never Make Your Move Too Soon, and a stupendous version of Jimi Hendricks’s Hey Baby. Love Ain’t A Love Song was simply phenomenal as he came to the front of the stage and stripped this extended version right down to just him and his guitar, playing as though they were whispering to each other, and drawing this spellbound audience in with every note.

Bonamassa’s ability on the guitar cannot be beaten. He combines rock and blues and creates something magical. By the time he worked his way to his infamous track Slow Gin, via Gave Up Everything For You and Going Down, the audience were entranced and had absorbed all the emotions that he portrays through his music.

He has to be at this moment in time simply the best blues rock guitarist on the planet. He slings on a guitar and plays his heart out and with his five piece band; Anton Fig on drums, Michael Rhodes on bass, the fabulously talented Reese on keyboards, Lee Thorburg playing the trumpet and old friend Paulie Cerra making the saxophone talk, the closer Ballad Of John Henry came too soon. Back on for an encore of Humming Bird, Bonamassa had the whole audience on their feet.

Without doubt, the Barclaycard Arena had been in the presence of a genius. With few words between songs, he lets his guitars do the talking and what a sweet sound he makes.