Joe Bonamassa Live @ Nottingham Capital FM Arena 25/10/15 Review

Simon Dunkerley NottinghamArena

Photo Credit: Simon Dunkerley

There are some artists whom you can see over and over again. It doesn’t matter whether they’re playing the same set as the time you saw them before, or if it’s a completely different collection of songs, it’s simply the fact that that particular artist seems more at home in the live environment than anywhere else. This is absolutely the case with Joe Bonamassa. As good as his albums are, there’s always a feeling that on stage, cutting it loose with god’s own backing band spitting fire behind him, is where Joe Bonamassa belongs. For many queuing outside the Capital FM arena in Nottingham, this is the second, third or fourth time they’ve seen him and yet there’s still that remarkable sense of anticipation as if the crowd know that whether Joe sticks to the hits, or tears through deep cuts and covers, it’s going to be an amazing night of entertainment courtesy of one of the greatest living guitar players on the planet today.

With a remarkable back catalogue to choose from, Joe’s not short of classics with which to pepper his set. Moreover, despite a workload that would make most people collapse just from looking at the schedule, Joe only seems to be getting better with each passing year. As a result, his most recent albums have proved to be particularly impressive and we’re treated to a significant number of tracks from the amazing ‘different shades of blue’ record tonight, particularly a stand-out ‘oh beautiful’ and a stunning ‘love ain’t a love song’. Joe is, of course, known for his ability to reinterpret tracks and make them entirely his own, and so the evening’s set is also liberally sprinkled with covers from a variety of sources. For a start there’s that exquisite Tim Curry cover (which, if ignored, might very well lead to a lynching), but there’re also covers from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Jeff Beck. Nonetheless, it’s the Joe originals that really make the night and aside from the ‘different shades of blue’ tracks, there’s also the Zeppelin-loving ‘Ballad of John Henry’ to contend with and plenty more besides. Put simply, Joe Bonamassa has never short-changed his audience with a meagre set and he’s not about to start now.

Starting to show its age a little Nottingham’s Capital FM arena is packed and the crowd have little space to spread into before the show starts with the merchandise and food vendors all facing awkwardly into the ring that runs around the auditorium. It’s not ideal but it does give a very accurate idea of just how full the place is (just over 3000 people, Joe says). The show starts a little worryingly with sound issues causing Joe to make frantic signals to the stage side, but once things settle, the sound is typically excellent. There’s also a light show to dazzle the senses, and Joe and his band (comprising Reese Wynans, Anton Fig, Michael Rhodes, Lee Thornburg and Paulie Cerra) quickly set about reducing the arena to rubble. It’ s a different band to the one we’ve seen touring with Joe in recent years, but, by changing the line-up regularly, Joe inspires himself to play in different ways and so even familiar songs emerge in a different way as the evening unfolds. As wonderful as Joe’s recent acoustic work has been, it’s great to see Joe back in full-on electric mode, and songs like Otis Rush’s ‘double trouble’ and the B.B. King cover, ‘never make your move too soon’, are delivered with smouldering intensity. It’s a memorable set indeed and when, during the show’s encore, Joe cuts loose in power trio mode with just Michael and Anton for a crushing run through Jeff Beck’s ‘Spanish boots’, it’s enough to make you believe the heavens have cracked. The final touch, though, is the joyful run through the Muddy Waters classic ‘all aboard’ which sees Joe and Reese go head to head, all smiles, for some wonderfully chaotic solos. It is a brilliant end to the night and with the entire audience on their feet throughout the final number in a rare show of devotion, it’s clear that this will rank as one of the more memorable of Joe’s gigs.

Credit: Simon Dunkerley

Credit: Simon Dunkerley

Joe Bonamassa is a legend in the making. When people look back to his period of his career, they’ll see not only a prolific song-writer, but also a collaborator not afraid to give his time to the projects he believes in. They’ll also see an artist entirely focused on perfecting his art and they’ll realise that Joe’s greatness comes both from his undiminished love of the blues and his monumental work ethic. This is a man who lives and breathes the music that he plays and his all-consuming love of the genre is easily transmitted to the audience. Seeing a Bonamassa show is a thrilling, life-changing experience. If you love guitar-based music, whatever the genre, then you owe it to yourself to spend an evening with this man. His passion, his power, his remarkable tone, they are all just parts of the reason that his live shows are so endlessly rewarding. Joe is living proof that the age of the guitar hero is far from over and at any one of his performances you’ll find all the excitement, the passion and the love that makes music such a universal language. Having already played Nottingham numerous times, and in numerous venues (as Joe reminds us), Joe made a triumphant return to his biggest venue in the town to date and there was not a single person who left the venue disappointed. Joe is, without doubt, one of the most prodigiously gifted artists treading the boards today and, as ever, the evening flew by with barely a pause – roll on the next tour, because, judging by the raucous reception he received in Nottingham, it can’t come soon enough.

There is still a chance to see Joe Bonamassa on this tour –


Tuesday 27th October 2015 Tickets:  £35, £45, £60, £75

Book Tickets Online:

Box Office: 029 20 22 44 88 / Doors: 6:30pm

Mary Ann St, Cardiff, CF10 2EQ


Wednesday 28th October 2015 Ticket Prices: £35, £45, £60, £75

Book Tickets Online:

Box Office: 0844 576 3000 / Doors: 7:30pm

Exeter Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH2 5BH


Friday 30th October 2015 Ticket Prices: £35, £45, £60, £75

Book Tickets Online:

Box Office: 0844 847 1515 / Doors:  6:30pm

Kings Road, Brighton. East Sussex BN1 2GR


Saturday 31st October 2015 Ticket Prices: £35, £45, £60, £75

Book Tickets Online:

Box Office: 0844 847 1515 / Doors:  6:30pm

Kings Road, Brighton. East Sussex BN1 2GR

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