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

Joe Bonamassa

The Corner Hotel, Richmond, Melbourne

1st April 2010



The crowd at the Corner Hotel in Richmond tonight witnessed two hours and ten minutes of magic. The Corner, which is a great little venue with a decent bar and great sound was absolutely packed to the rafters and quite rightly so. I’ve seen a good few bands at the Corner over the years ranging from Mike Tramp, Bruce Kulick and The Wildhearts but I have never seen anything like this absolutely storming hot and sweaty sell-out gig..


Joe was scheduled to take the stage at 9:30 but actually came out at 9:05 after the last notes of Iron Maiden’s "Two Minutes to Midnight" had faded from the speakers. When he left the stage at 11:15 it was to "King of The Road" and by god I think he just might be.


It’s hard for a hard rock man like me to admit but this week I have seen two of the best concerts of my life and this was certainly one of them. If there is a better guitarist in the world today all I can say is that he is keeping very quiet. Bonamassa just seems to have a complete and utter control over his instrument and the sounds and tone he gets is other worldly. If you want to see blues to lift you out of your own I cannot recommend Joe Bonamassa any higher.


We are five storming songs into the set before we hear more than a "hi" or "thanks" from Joe, it is just one great song after another until he finally steps up for a little chat after introducing his Sydney keyboardist Rick Melick to some good natured boos (Sydney and Melbourne rivalry to the fore).


By this time the crowd are eating out of the palm of his hand Joe is ready for a bit of chat and tells us a funny story about ‘call and response’ – Angels fans will get this if I tell you that it revolved around him singing the chorus to "Am I ever going to See You Face Again" and him getting the traditional Aussie response!


There’s a great mix in the set too, with Bonamassa classics like "If Heartaches Were Nickels," "Sloe Gin" and "Blues Deluxe" but best of all is the pacing of it all, and we get a hard rocker followed by a beautiful ballad or intricate solo. The new tracks from "Black Rock" also work really well in the fabric of the evening "Bird on a Wire" perhaps the best of the new ones.


The only acoustic foray we hear tonight is the magical "Woke up Dreaming" and allowed Joe to show us that he is also the master of the acoustic with a solo that strode the worlds of classical, flamenco and good old hard rock. It was a truly amazing sight to see a dazzling array of rhythms and scales whilst playing arpeggios seemingly at the speed of sound itself!  


Highlights of such a great perfectly balanced and unrelentingly great set are pretty hard but I was very taken with the delicate and beautiful solo that opened "Sloe Gin"; the truly terrifyingly grand master-class that is "Mountain Time" and the wonderful reworking of the final song ZZ Top’s "Just Got Paid" which Joe takes to another planet entirely and layers in his own version of the Zeppelin "Dazed and Confused" solo. He ends the night holding his guitar in the air a-la Albert Hall. At times Joe is all blues, at others he’s liquid fire and there’s even the odd song like "Young Man’s Blues" that wouldn’t be a million miles away from say Badlands.


The band we should also mention were flawless and whoever mixes the sound should get a pat on the back too. Bogie Bowles is one of the best drummers I have seen while Carmine Rojas held it all together playing the entire set seated stage right. Rick Melick also adds to the mix and certainly rounds out the overall sound. I guess the best thing about the band though is that they keep the spotlight firmly on Joe and let him get on with the magic.  


I am not sure there is anyone out there playing guitar at the moment that can touch this guy live. I stood mesmerised for the entire show and it left me wanting more. A great, very appreciative crowd would have taken away a lot of memories tonight, amazing.




Set list:

Last Kiss
So Many Roads
So It’s Like That
If Heartaches Where Nickels
Further on Up the Road
Sloe Gin
Lonesome Road Blues
Happier Times
Blue and Evil
Three Times A Fool
Blues Deluxe
Young Man’s Blues
Woke up Dreaming

Mountain Time
Bird on a Wire
Just Got Paid