Written by Bill Whiting – [email protected]
Live From the Royal Albert Hall captures Utica, New York native Joe Bonamassa at a May 4, 2009 concert from the legendary London venue on a two disc video set. Opening the film with a historical narrative, the viewer learns that Bonamassa was given his first guitar by his father at the age of four. By the time he reached seven, he was playing Hendrix with ease. At twelve years old, Joe Bonamassa opened for B.B. King. His dream was always to play the Royal Albert Hall, and tickets for the performance sold out in less than a week. Walking on stage to the strains of “Django,” Bonamassa’s visual presence is defined by his mastery of blues rock lead soloing, and a serious, business like appearance, replete with obligatory dark sunglasses. Touring behind the 2009 album, The Ballad Of John Henry, Bonamassa engages the Albert Hall audience with the title track, leaning heavily on the talents of bass player Carmine Rojas and drummers Bogie Bowles and Anton Fig. Concentrating on the soulful gem, “So Many Roads,” Bonamassa offers up a menacing blast of fiery feedback before succumbing to the ballad’s tender ending. One of the double disc’s highlights is the appearance of Eric Clapton, and the two guitarists bond on a rousing version of “Further On Up the Road.” BBC Radio’s Paul Jones accompanies Bonamassa on harmonica during a stinging take on the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, “Your Funeral, My Trial.” Teasing Jeff Beck, Warren Haynes and Jimmy Page, Bonamassa strikes up bold string bending improvisations during ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid.” After a standing ovation, Joe Bonamassa entertains the Royal Albert Hall patrons one last time with the stirring movements of his signature closer, “Asking Around For You.” Produced by Kevin Shirley and directed by Scot McFayden and Sam Dunn, Joe Bonamassa Live From the Royal Albert Hall captures the artist in full maturity, assisted by the music legends he has looked up to his entire life.