By Erik De’Viking, Rock At Night London
Album Review: Joe Bonamassa Live At The Sydney Opera House – Provogue / J&R Adventures on October 25, 2019
Genre: Blues / Blues Rock
Blues guitar virtuoso Joe Bonamassa returns with his eagerly awaited new album, Joe Bonamassa Live At The Sydney Opera House. Featuring previously unreleased songs from his now legendary number one album, Blues of Desperation, Live At The Sydney Opera House features ten stunning tracks recorded at his 2016 performance at the iconic UNESCO Heritage Monument. Featuring a band made up of some of the most respected musicians and singers on offer today, such as Anton Fig (percussion), Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynans (keyboards), Paulie Cerra (sax), and Lee Thornburg (trumpet), with Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins, and Gary Pinto on backing vocals, this is a live performance to be cherished for years to come.
Arguably one of the hardest working musicians in the industry, Joe never ceases to amaze me with his live performance art. Having had the pleasure to see him live, I can attest to how well this album goes about capturing that sound. In what can only be described as a masterclass in the blues, the album opens on one of my favourite songs of recent years, ‘This Train’. Starting off with a simple piano intro by the master, Reese Wynans, Joe’s signature guitar sound weaves in as the two duel sonically just as the band breaks in and that brilliant train-like, stomp rhythm that runs like an undercurrent on a live rail starts to roll along. It’s obvious at this point, that it’s gonna be one hell of a musical ride. Without so much of a change of gears, the band rolls right into ‘Mountain Climbing’, before slowing things down for the atmospheric ‘Drive’, with Joe’s smooth and smoky vocals floating languidly over the music as it builds in intensity. Things kick back up a notch for a groove-laden rendition of ‘Love Ain’t A Love Song’, followed by ‘How Deep This River Runs’, which really shows off the talents of his backing vocalists. As the album expands, we’re treated to ‘Mainline Florida’, an uplifting rendition of ‘The Valley Runs Low’, which simply drips with Delta Blues and gospel-infused sensibilities, before a positively bombastic performance of ‘Blues Of Desperation’, which is full of raw passion and energy. The addition of the brass to Joe’s live set really elevates it to another level and adds a layer of sophistication to his music. It’s on this track where they really take centre stage. As the album rounds off with ‘No Place For The Lonely’, and ‘Livin’ Easy’, one can only imagine what it must have been like to witness this phenomenal music extravaganza live in those hallowed halls.
Live At The Sydney Opera House may mark the only release for Joe Bonamassa this year, but consider it to be an appetiser, as Joe is hard at work writing new songs, which hopefully means we’ll have a new album of original material to look forward to next year. In the meantime, I cannot recommend this album enough. Not only does it belong in any blues fan’s collection, it is something that can be enjoyed by any lover of great live music. Do yourself a favour, and go pick up a copy. Joe Bonamassa Live At The Sydney Opera House is out on Friday the 25th of October via Provogue/J&R Adventures.
- This Train (Live)
- Mountain Climbing (Live)
- Drive (Live)
- Love Ain’t A Love Song (Live)
- How Deep This River Runs (Live)
- Mainline Florida (Live)
- The Valley Runs Low (Live)
- Blues Of Desperation (Live)
- No Place For The Lonely (Live)
- Livin‘ Easy (Live) [Bonus Track]
‘Love Ain’t A Love Song’
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