No Ordinary Joe


Concert Review – Joe Bonamassa – Edinburgh Usher Hall – 18 April, 2017

Joe Bonamassa strolls onstage at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall resplendent in a tailored suit, crisp white shirt and sporting his trademark shades. Like a Saville Row peacock he exudes bucket loads of confidence.

Over the next two hours he serves up a sumptuous feast, seducing the audience with flawless guitar playing delivered with passion and panache. It’s an exhilarating musical extravaganza showcasing tracks from his new studio album, Blues of Desperation and fan favourites from his back catalogue.

Is there a more technically gifted guitarist threading the boards? Little wonder he is hailed as one of the greatest guitar players of his generation.  The cherry on the cake is his classy backing band. Wow, just wow!

Bonamassa storms out of the traps with the first three numbers that include two, This Train and Mountain Climbing, from the new LP. The band fires up like Vesuvius erupting. Horns blasting, female background singers majestically hollering to the heavens. Jade Macrae and Mahalia Barnes (daughter of Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes) were outstanding.


A rollicking Boogie for Stu allowed Paulie Cerra on sax and Reese Wynans on piano to fly solo, breathtaking musicians that add the shine to Bonamassa’s formidable ensemble. A hat tip too for Lee Thornburg on trumpet, brilliant. Michael Rhodes on bass and drummer Anton Fig ooze quality maintaining a thundering back beat throughout the night.

And then there’s the guitars, lots of them. Bonamassa moves from a Fender to Gibson, to a Telecaster, a Firebird and a couple of Les Paul’s. On Angel of Mercy he pulls on the Flying V, normally associated with metal gods like German rocker Michael Schenker, but tonight in the hands of a blues master. Oh my word, how he makes it sing.

The extended guitar solos are a joy to behold: on No Good Place For The Lonely, and Blues for Desperation, Bonamassa’s command of his instrument is spellbinding. He closes the show with Hummingbird. As he takes a bow beside his superb band, the Scottish crowd greet the musicians departure from the stage with rapturous applause.

There is more to come from Bonamassa, much more. He’s a bona fide road dog, criss-crossing the globe racking up around 150 shows worldwide each year. He’s on fire at the moment, burning up every stage and attracting more fans with his electrifying guitar licks.

Joe Bonamassa’s UK tour continues at London Royal Albert Hall (April 20 and 21), Blackpool Opera House (April 22) and Sheffield Arena (April 24).  London and Blackpool dates are sold out. Tickets for Sheffield are available from:

Live photos from the Usher Hall courtesy of Martin Bone Photography.