"I told Joe after the show that he was getting to the point of being in a league of his own. I told Tal Bergman the next night that I had never heard a new member change a band so much (in a wonderful way). I told Rick Melick that his Hammond cut through the way I had always wanted it to. I told Carmine Rojas that it was fantastic to hear him off his leash, and sounding like Carmine Rojas again."
These were my words, written to Joe Bonamassa super fan, Patty Patrick, after I attended two of the axe-slinger's shows over the past weekend, and I meant every word I uttered.
As I told Bergman, I have never seen one individual impact the sound of a band so much with their presence. His animated antics, and superb command of the drum kit takes the show up a tremendous amount in terms of energy and excitement. From his subtle underpinnings on Sloe Gin, to his astounding assault on The Who classic, Young Man Blues, the drummer prods Bonamassa and the band to heights previously only hinted at.
New songs such as Dust Bowl, and Slow Train display a new side of Bonamassa that he has been heading towards for several seasons - heavy, swampy rock, filled with passionate vocalizing, and some of the most distinctive guitar soloing to be heard. This is especially true on Slow Train, in which the guitar and vocal tracks sound in league with the lyrics, and the musician producing them. The guitar solos on this tune are remarkable in conveying not just a player's prowess, but the song itself. Live, these tracks are incredibly powerful, immediately grabbing an already attentive audience by the throat, and forcibly bringing them along. You can almost here the shock in the audience as it responds to the new band's sheer force. It's a joy to hear, as traditionally, Bonamassa fans have clung to the bluesier roots as the guitarist has evolved more towards a larger and more adventurous rock posture, one that suits him perfectly. It's great to hear an audience grow alongside an act.
Thanks to all in the Bonamassa camp for their hospitality, and their time. I got to speak with the whole band, and manager Roy Weisman over the weekend, and was able to properly determine that what I had thought was true, was, in fact - that this band is as thrilled as their audience about this tour.
Photos courtesy of Libby Sokolowski. All rights reserved. Thanks to Libby for the connections, logistics, and so much more.