LIVE REVIEW: JOE BONAMASSA - THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL 5TH MAY 2022

Mr. B returns to the RAH for the first of two nights of smokin' hot blues


Photo Manny Manson



As Forest Gump once said, “ life is like [watching a Joe Bonamassa concert] you never know what you’re gonna get.” For the uninitiated, Mr. Bonamassa has an encyclopedic knowledge of the blues genre and between plucking out obscure standards, 8 bar classics, 15 solo studio albums, and a host of collaborations, he could easily play a different setlist every night for a month and still not have to repeat himself.


With Bonamassa’s exuberance for music, it seems that every week there is another new release with his name attached, even at the risk of over-saturation. However, seeing him in a live arena explains not only why he has such a wide fan base (there was one guy sporting a Megadeth t-shirt in the audience) but he actually puts his money where his mouth is. His energy and skill are a masterclass and his playing is technically brilliant. He switches effortlessly between the bombastic riffs of 'Love Ain't A Love song', the precision of 'A Conversation With Alice' and up-tempo 'Lonely Boy', A crowd raising rendition of 'Ballad of John Henry' is where he takes the blues crown and puts the royalty into the Royal Albert Hall.


Surprisingly the set for his first shows in the UK in three years only contains one song from his current album - the excellent ‘Time Clocks’. Much like his last show at the Royal Albert Hall back in 2019, this show picks some tasty tunes from across his career including fan-favourite 'Sloe Gin' as part of the encore.


Backed by the suburb dream team of musicians including the legendary Reese Wynans and co-producing partner in crime Josh Smith, and backing singers, Jade Macrae and Dani De Andrea, the band is so smokin' they should come with a health warning.


For most of the show, the music speaks for itself, but when Joe does address the audience, again it's with no pomp and circumstance – we'll leave that to the Proms – it's down to earth, humble and humorous. Despite his dapper threads: his trademark shades, suit, and a killer pair of shoes, this show is all about the music and very little time for peacocking around.


Photo by Zoran Veselinovic