Rochester N.Y welcomed the return of Utica native Joe Bonamassa, just a few months after the release of his latest album, “Different Shades of Blue.” Joe’s current show features an acoustic and electric set, and as his recorded catalogue increases, it’s getting harder to find space for new material in an already dense set.
The acoustic set opened with the title track from his 2011 release “Dust Bowl” and featured an excellent cross section of Joe’s work since his debut release in 2000. The acoustic set has a wonderful Americana feel to it, complete with an eclectic selection of stringed and percussive instruments. If you have heard Joe’s “An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House” you will be familiar with his approach.
One thing that is extraordinary is the sound quality. The instruments and vocals were in perfect balance, and there was not a trace of distortion. Joe’s live sound, especially for his acoustic set, is something that must be experienced.
A major highlight from set one was Joe’s vocal performance on “Different Shades of Blue.” Joe’s songwriting and vocal ability continue to improve, and he sang the song with incredible finesse and passion.
The electric set was impressive as usual, and by the time Joe hit “Sloe Gin” you realize just how well the set and the show is constructed, because it slowly but purposefully builds to an amazing climax.
Joe spent most of the electric set playing a Les Paul. The Theremin was notably absent, but not missed, as Joe seems to have added new sounds to his electric arsenal that more than compensate for the sounds he was getting from the Theremin.
The main set closed with “The Ballad of John Henry” a song that has been a fixture in Joe’s live set for many years, and yet it is still evolving and exciting every time he performs it. It drew one of many the nights many standing ovations.
The night ended with “Mountain Time” another Bonamassa classic that grows better with age like a fine wine.
Joe performed around two and a half hours, both his acoustic and electric bands are in lock step, and everybody onstage seems to be having the time of their lives. Joe’s show encompasses every element of a great live performance, he is a living legend, and a must-see for lovers of live music.
Different Shades of Blue
Black Lung Heartache
Jockey Full of Bourbon
Athens to Athens
Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) (Jimi Hendrix cover)
I Gave Everything Up For You ‘Cept The Blues
Story of a Quarryman
Love Ain’t a Love Song
Sloe Gin (Tim Curry cover)
The Ballad of John Henry