Bonamassa Keeps Colosseum Rockin’

It’s rocking! The Who, Steely Dan, Van Morrison and now Joe Bonamassa. I have seen Clapton, Van Halen, Richards but none had the energy and precision and then the knock-down, drag-out solos like the performance I saw October 22nd.  “Joe Bonamassa is one of the most technically proficient guitarists in the world,” says Rolling Stone. I couldn’t agree more.

Joe Bonamassa- Caesars Colosseum September 22, 2017

-Bonamassa’s parents owned a guitar store where he started playing when he was four. At age eight, he opened for B.B. King and at age 12, he was playing regularly around upstate New York. He hooked up with the band Bloodline before releasing his first solo; A New Day Yesterday. Demonstrating his diversity, in 2013 he released a live CD/DVD set called An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House and followed it up in 2014 with he and Beth Hart, Live in Amsterdam, my favorite concert DVD.

Bonnamassa puts on a killer live show which has allowed him to build a passionate fan base. “Truth be told, my whole career has been based on underground support and a cult following and I’m fine with my fans, because that means we a have real solid foundation, says Bonamassa. I have nothing but foundation. All of my bricks are bricks, there are no compromising points. As long as you keep your eye on the ball, do a quality show, and put out a quality record, those things stay with you.”

With no video and a clean stage, the show focused 100 percent on the music. He has no hit songs, so his performance included cuts from his new album, Blues of Desperation, past songs and covers.

“This Train” and “Mountain Climbing”, the first two songs from his new album, are a pair of bare-knuckled blues-rockers that evoked not only Stevie Ray Vaughan, but bands like Mountain and Led Zeppelin.


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  7. (Freddie King cover)

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  8. (Albert King cover)

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  12. (Led Zeppelin cover)

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  14. (Led Zeppelin cover)

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  15. (Leon Russell cover)

Behind him was a dream band, with Reese Wynans (of SRV’s Double Trouble) on keys, the legendary Anton Fig (of the Letterman band and much, much more) on drums, veteran bassist Michael Rhodes, trumpeter Lee Thornburg, saxophonist Paulie Cerra and two soulful backup singers from Australia in Jade MacRae and Juanita Tippins.

Bonamassa’s sound is tight, clean, and thick. A good sounding show requires an acoustically sound venue, a good sound man and artists that know its limitations. All three were hitting on all cylinders. The show filled up every corner of the Colosseum. The separation of sound was absurdly good. Each member of the eight-piece band came in clear from the whistle tones of the soprano to the foundational bass. Bonamassa’s raw display of skill, builds tension as he repeats the same lick dozens of times and each song featured at least one extended guitar solo.

He does not do a lot of talking, but was proud of the light purple suite he bought at the Forum Shops.


The encore was ‘Hummingbird, a BB King track that set up a series of grandstanding solos. For the number, he wore an Evel Knievel motorcycle helmet. The audience was on its feet. Any reticence during the earlier part of the show was long gone. The gig ended with spiraling solos, big brass sweeps, soaring backing vocals, pumping bass and swirling Hammond organ. A performer at the peak of his powers.











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