Bonamassa transfers the energy

Austin City Limits, Austin, April 1, 2021

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

Livestream shows are the norm in the pandemic era. Many artists find It is difficult to transfer the energy of an in-person concert to a stream. Not Joe Bonamassa. His one-off power trio performance from the Austin City Limits stage was played at Mach 3 speed, and at times, it felt like he was going to break through your TV.

There was also a layer of finesse and deftness woven into the blues assault. On the cover of Gary Moore's "Midnight Blues," drummer Anton Fig caressed the kit like a timpani player while backup singer Jade MacRae gave it a gospel feel.

Bonamassa's singing is somewhat underrated. His vocals are versatile, be it delivering the soulfulness of the aforementioned song to going full voice on "Beyond The Silence" and "Wandering Earth," which he admitted he had never done in concert. Of course, he played mostly all out but some of the spacing between phrases and precise runs made it a little less of a shred fest and more a controlled burn.

He prefaced the cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan's signature "Scuttle Buttin'" by saying, "I'm in Austin Texas, so playing this next one here takes some balls. He more than did it justice. Ditto on Jeff Beck's "Blues Deluxe." Fans had picked the set list beforehand and Bonamassa had teased a surprise second encore online. He capped off the generous 2-1/2 hours with be lightning-fast versions of "Woke Up Dreaming" and "Crossroads."

The stage setup was no frills as usual. Both kick drums were emblazoned with JOE in block letters three times. It gave the evening a smaller club feel, one where when you discover a burgeoning artist. The vibe was fitting. With the 700 in attendance, the theater was still 2,000 short of capacity. Bonamassa is not yet on the mainstream radar due largely because blues is still a niche genre. He is being played more frequently on rock radio. So, you don't need to be a blues aficionado with a Sirius subscription to access and appreciate him and the genre. All you need to be is just a fan of real good music.


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