Joe Bonamassa - Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening album review

Hot blues beats cold venue

Cover art for Joe Bonamassa - Live At Carnegie Hall – An Acoustic Evening album review

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With more than 20 albums in the past 15 years, not to mention all the collaborations, Joe Bonamassa’s career is risking overkill. But judging by this two-CD live set from New York’s Carnegie Hall last year, it’s not at that stage just yet.

The Carnegie Hall may be prestigious, but its acoustics are cold and austere, which made recording this gig something of a challenge. By focusing on the clarity of sound from his nine-piece acoustic band, Bonamassa overcomes the problem, although there are times when you wish for more warmth and passion.

That certainly doesn’t apply to Chinese cellist Tina Guo, who adds a new dynamic to Blue And Evil and Woke Up Dreaming. Or to Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy, who some may remember from Plant And Page’s Unledded tour.

Regular band pianist Reese Wynans also seizes the moment with some fine solos and shows his spontaneity on Driving Towards The Daylight. Bonamassa’s voice survives close scrutiny too.

The set sags a little in the middle, but that’s only in comparison to the full-on focus at the start and the exhilaration towards the end.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.