Joe Bonamassa sings & writes the Blues. Correction. Make that: Joe Bonamassa plays Blues guitar. Scratch that. Joe Bonamassa is the Blues, the way Poe was muse, Michelangelo sculpture, and Vincent Van Gogh, art. Like a combination of Stevie Ray Vaughn & Eric Clapton, the onetime child prodigy is almost a quarter century into reshaping the Blues landscape, and still better, his driving beat and forward-moving lyrics make it obvious this is one Blues Man who’s going to be in the pink again, soon.
From the crashing start of his 8 o’clock show at Santa Barbara’s Arlington theatre last night—the New York native started on time, and latecomers be damned—to the final chord two and a half hours later, I was captivated. Jiggling like a palsied person in my plush seat right along with the other 2K attendees in the grand but small venue. (a venue wherein cameras are apparently allowed, so note to selfie about that!)
As hot as revenge sex, lead song Slow Train grabbed me by the hair, making it stand on end like an ovation, a tingle that went clear down to my toe-tapping tootsies. Was it really an acoustic guitar inciting and exciting me so? It was. Accompanied by band members the gracious star introduced 2x (I still don’t remember their names..;) a seated, sun-glassed Joe on acoustic guitar went off the tracks as soon as he pulled out of the station, backed up by bass, bongos, & drums. By fiddle, mandola, & second guitar. By maracas, keyboards & even washboards at some junctures, since there was plenty more dirty laundry to come.
Videe of acoustic guitar rendition of Slow Train
Because this is one band that skipped changing outfits to change my perception of them. After an hour or so of each song better than the last—ranging from covers to originals that included such tunes as Jelly Roll, Jockey Full of Bourbon, & Athens to Athens—they flat-out changed instruments during the 15 minutes of intermission. Exchanging acoustic for electric while audience members exchanged pleasantries in the lobby, the throwback, interlude tradition was reminiscent of grander times to which the elaborately appointed Arlington theatre is well-suited. There was a bar on the patio (I think so, the crush was too amazing to negotiate) tables stacked with free-music download codes, and premise-leaving permitted, thus insuring a pampered crowd returned to the auditorium to find the stage transformed.
Videe of electric guitar Slow Train
As was the song Slow Train, though Bonamassa didn’t lead with the reinterpreted number. Prowling the stage in a suit reminiscent of the Fab Four with gesticulations still more fabulous, Joe led us Around the Bend, through Dislocated Boy & John Henry, and poured on a Sloe Gin that was anything but. Riffing like the Dead & jamming like Floyd, the playlist was as linked as you’re about to be, when I close this shout out with a every link to the “Blues Rock Titan” I could find.
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Thank you Santa Barbara! Good night! pic.twitter.com/sxwgep6ysb
— JOE BONAMASSA (@JBONAMASSA) December 13, 2013