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Joe Bonamassa plays Royal Tea Live and the cardboard cut-outs go wild

Out now: Joe Bonamassa's Royal Tea: Live From The Ryman proves Royal Tea was a good album, even without a real-life audience

Joe Bonamassa: Now Serving - Royal Tea Live From The Ryman
(Image: © Provogue)

Some people have accused Joe Bonamassa of releasing too many albums. More likely he’s just satisfying his fan base and saving them the bother of searching out dodgy bootlegs. Like this one, maybe. 

Frustrated that he was unable to tour last year’s Royal Tea album, he set up a gig at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium, installed a load of cardboard cut-outs where the audience should be, and proceeded to rip through the album, mostly in sequence, starting with the epic When One Door Opens but missing out the final Savannah for some reason.

A hardened road hog, Bonamassa has no problem spicing up the tracks live for the cardboard audience, confirming that Royal Tea is one of his better albums in recent years. 

For the encore he revives Rory Gallagher’s Cradle Rock and Jethro Tull’s A New Day Yesterday, tacking on a slab of Yes’s Starship Trooper for good measure. And the cardboard cut-outs respond enthusiastically after every song – until the last.