The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world











Palm Trees, Helicopters & Gasoline (acoustic)

Seagull (acoustic) (Bad Company cover)

Dislocated Boy (acoustic)

Driving Towards the Daylight (acoustic)

Woke-Up Dreaming (acoustic)

Slow Train

Dust Bowl

Who's Been Talking? (Howlin' Wolf cover)

Midnight Blues (Gary Moore cover)

The Ballad of John Henry

Song of Yesterday (Black Country Communion song)

Look Over Yonder's Wall (Freddie King cover)

Blues Deluxe (Jeff Beck Group cover)

Young Man Blues (Mose Allison cover)


Mountain Time


Sloe Gin (Tim Curry cover)

Just Got Paid (with Dazed & Confused)



Claude Hay




After seeing Claude Hay only a few days before for the first time, it is great to see that the Concert Hall is pretty much three quarters full as he takes his seat for a short set in front of ‘Joe’s Crowd’. With a new shirt and waistcoat he puts on a nerve-free performance showcasing some of his most immediate songs, and it’s clear by the reaction of those watching that this guy is something a little special (and a home-grown talent at that)! As Joe says later on in the evening when he thanks Claude, he rarely has support acts and Mr Hay has more hand eye co-ordination than he can dream of.




What you get with Claude is an infectious fusion of hard rock, blues and roots performed by one man, building loops to add to the drums and guitar he lays down. He’s a modern day one man band you should look up if you love a hard edge to your music and a wonderful groove. Songs like ‘I Love Hate You’ are just so damned good they get a great response from an appreciate crowd. Definitely someone to look out for when he comes back our way.




Joe Bonamassa




So after a great appetiser it’s time for the main course and as a four time veteran of Joe Bonamassa all I can really say is that each time you see him he seems to add to the experience.




Starting with an acoustic set led by ‘Palm Trees, Helicopters and Gasoline’ and Bad Company’s ‘Seagull’, which suits him down to the ground, he’s joined by drummer Tal Bergman who sits beside Joe for the rest of a short and enjoyable interlude before the main electric set kicks in.




For those out there that haven’t experienced a Bonamassa show before I think that a lot of the magic has to do with his broad appeal. After all here is a man who has built everything himself from the ground up. Someone who can fill out Concert Hall’s the World over through hard work and the power of word of mouth. Bonamassa may for some exemplify the blues, but for others it’s his affinity for hard rock that draws them in. Whatever the reason for coming to a show there are several self-evident truths and the most obvious of these is that the music that resonates with so many of us is in safe hands for another generation.




The electric set kicks in with ‘Slow Train Coming’. The full band sounds amazing and the room sound is flawless, filling every corner of the hall with honey-thick golden blues. The two numbers from Dust Bowl that follow actually sound bolder and stronger than I remember them from last time, it seems that the title track has harnessed a little more of that storming hard rock power in between visits, and gained more of an edge as a result. It powers forward driven by an incessant bass line to meet a space-filled solo replete with deft touches that recall the wide open spaces and desolation of the Midwest in drought, whilst the red and yellow stage lights shine like a desert sun as Joe wails.



’Who’s Been Talking?’ again from Dust Bowl sees Joe resplendent in front of three giant Marshalls whilst lush keys build the song before we dip into wonderful pin-drop drums that Joe plays over, as he struts the stage making the guitar speak. Then the vocals and the full band crashes in as he wails. It’s a song you have to revisit again to appreciate the full atmospherics.









More sweet songs from the Les Paul follow, and under low white light Joe pulls out a version of Gary Moore’s ‘Midnight Blues’ which goes down wonderfully well with the crowd. Despite a slight interlude for a large gentleman from the audience to engage him in conversation (thankfully not mid-song) there’s a great touch as Joe bemoans the prices in Perth: ‘There are some good bargains out there… Two cheeseburgers, fries and cokes just one hundred forty seven dollars’. We laugh but it is true and Joe’s likening Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills to Wal-Mart in comparison raises a laugh.




For me of course one of the absolute highlights is hearing ‘that riff’. The Ballad of John Henry has to be one of the greatest riffs ever written and you have to love the sheer power of the song and of course the amazing slide solo. I always love the slow subtle false end to the song before it bursts back into full flame. And just to underline the wonderful atmospherics and light and shade that underscore the night ‘Song of Yesterday’ that follows sound like something Bad Co would have written back in the day as the song opens up into a  storming hard rocker with killer drums. There’s a change of emphasis again for ‘Look Over Yonder's Wall’ that is full of soul and picked guitar refrains, it’s a barebones of a song that allows Joe to display the control and tone that live in his fingers. We end with delicate raindrop notes before Joe simply tells us ‘That's it!’



The traditional blues of Jeff beck’s Blues Deluxe is enough to make you weep, the crowd silent as Joe solos so quietly you can almost hear yourself breathe, beautiful emotion in every single note. You can almost sense an explosion coming next.



’Young Man Blues’ an age old song is given the Who treatment and despite a slight issue with ‘ghosts’ in the pedal board the heavy rock prototype has the power and the drums and a riff from hell. You believe that all hard rock came from this as the song becomes and extended workout where the bass and keys and drums get to play. Hell, there’s even an amazing drum solo!



The two songs that close the set proper are the beautiful atmospheric guitar of ‘Django’ which explores a Spanish wilderness and acts as a beautiful counterpoint to ‘Young Man Blues’. It’s light and shade, subtlety and power and maybe even good vs. evil. It’s also probably as West Coast as Joe gets before ‘Mountain Time’ eases us back into the room with an ending that could make you cry, especially when the drums surge kick back in and the guitar soars away into the night sky. It is breathtaking. And as the final note is wrung from the guitar its off with the sunglasses and ‘Thank you very much Perth, goodnight everyone’. The lights dim and we are left alone with just two lights remaining on the Marshalls at the back of the stage.









The encore is preceded by thanks to Claude Hay for the support and a priceless compliment of Claude having ‘more hand eye coordination than I can dream of’.




‘Sloe Gin’ is still always my highpoint of Joe’s show, and surely one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Tonight there’s a slight reshuffle of the song but it is still the slow build and the subtlety of its initial construction, the beauty of the single notes, that build into a torrential masterpiece that give you goose bumps every time.



Tonight it is just majestic, like black opals falling from the sky, tears from the lighting gantry. It’s hard to fathom how so much emotion can be wrung out of a song – mesmerizing. Of course Just Got Paid is the antithesis and the other reason that Bonamassa is so special, taking a song that everyone knows and loves and making it his own.  It takes very little encouragement to beckon the crowd to their feet and as he walks from side to side of the stage, reeling off the master riff he introduces sketches of Zeppelin, and despite again being plagued by pedal problems, he bursts through into a Zeppelin finale, and even throws in a few bars of Whitesnake’s ‘Still of the Night’ Before raising a glass of red to his drummer and introducing his band.



Joe Bonamassa really is one of the greats and I don’t think there is a single person in the crowd tonight who is left with any doubt about that. Come back soon.





by Mark Diggins