Pointing out that Joe Bonamassa works hard has become a cliché, but here it really is worth retreading this heavily eroded ground.
Live At Radio City Music Hall – recorded at the iconic New York venue during Bonamassa’s two-night stand in January 2015 – is his 14th live album in 13 years.
We quickly hear the justification for the release, though, with this record showcasing a band at the top of their game. There’s no onstage banter, this is stripped-back and to-the-point. The opening salvo displays a real swagger, with One Less Cross To Bear a standout for the entire record, while new life is injected to Muddy Waters’ I Can’t Be Satisfied. And while some Bonamassa shows have been heavily weighted with covers, this setlist is predominantly picked from 2014’s Different Shades Of Blue. This is a man who is his own artist, not some suit-clad copyist churning out the old classics.
He’s assembled one hell of a band. It may be Bonamassa’s name on the marquee but this is a team effort, and these guys are as tight as you like: raw blues underpinned by stunning musicality. Different Shades Of Blue takes the tempo down while ramping the emotion up, while Love Ain’t A Love Song and So, What Would I Do offer a funked-up finale.
Live At Radio City Music Hall shows how Bonamassa has blossomed from new kid to mid-career elder statesman for the likes of Aaron Keylock to look up to. And what finer role model could there be?