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Joe Bonamassa - Colston Hall, Bristol

By Steve Grenfell


Right, Joe Bonamassa has two problems.

First, there�s a frighteningly good chance that you haven�t heard of him yet. Well, if that was true, we�ve just sorted it out.

Second, if you do now go and check him out, it�ll hit you that he�s got a bit of an image problem. This guy�s no archetypal rock star. To be honest he comes across as a geek. To be really honest, and let�s get it out of the way up front, when he speaks he sounds just Kermit. (Just listen to his show at 7.00 pm Tuesday evenings on Planet Rock or to the lengthy interview on his website.)

None of that matters. If you let it get in the way, you�ll miss out on a fantastic musician.

Bonamassa is an absolutely phenomenal guitar player who put all of his skills on display for nearly 2 solid hours in Bristol. He was only due to play 4 dates in the UK and he had to cancel 2 of those through illness. So, we were lucky to catch him. He was clearly still feeling the effects of flu, but it didn�t damage his performance one bit. He really went for it. And if there�s a style of playing he can�t do, I didn�t notice. His roots are predominantly blues (he famously played with BB King when he was 12 � when Bonamassa was 12 that is, not BB) but he�s branched out in all directions. What�s his sound? Well it�s Eric Clapton, Gary Moore, David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Slash rolled into one and he went through his whole repertoire to a sold out Colston Hall.

He�s endearingly surprised and delighted that after 20 years of performing (and he�s still only 31) he�s now enjoying some real success. He said (and read this in your head in the style of an awestruck Kermit) "when I was last in this area I played Frome... and now look, there�s 1800 of you stretched all the way to the back row ". He also announced that he�ll be playing the Royal Albert Hall in May � "...and we�re not supporting anyone! It�s just us!" Cute.

Enough of the eulogy - any criticisms? Just one. He�s a guitar geek (that word again) and he keeps fiddling with different technical effects, and changing guitars mid-song to get a slightly modified sound. The sleeve notes for his recently released album "Live from Nowhere in Particular" tells you the 7 models of guitar and the 6 different amps he used on the recording. Who cares? He should just let his incredible playing speak for itself.

If you�ve got the money, and if you�ve got any love for guitar music, the Albert Hall on 4th May would be a great night out.







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