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Joe Bonamassa

Friday, March 10, 2006

Rex Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA


1. Taking The Hit
2. Walk In My Shadow
3. Blues Deluxe
4. Mountain Time
5. Bridge To Better Days
6. A New Day Yesterday
7. Miss You, Hate You
8. Woke Up Dreaming
9. The River
10. Burnin' Hell

11. Asking Around For You

My Concert Review

(3/10/06) I arrived at the Rex Theatre at 8:00 - showtime. It's a nice place, basically an old one-screen movie theatre converted into a smoky bar. Plastic chairs filled the room, and they were mostly full - I was lucky to snag a seat about halfway to the front, on the left sideline, but on the inside edge, so that my view of the stage was at just an angle that I had to look into the aisle, instead of the back of someone's head, which was nice.

When I walked in, a young woman was on stage playing piano on keyboard and singing. Her name was Lea Herman (, and Joe later identified her as his "beautiful girlfriend". She played well, and had a great voice, but I was anxious to see Joe. To be fair, I *had* come to hear searing blues guitar, not piano.

After Lea finished, there was maybe a 20-25 minute break before Joe hit the stage. First the drummer came on, and he looked young, like, younger than me, so at first I thought it must be a roadie just doing a sound check, although I was impressed for it just being a roadie. Then another figure came on stage with a guitar, but it was dark, so I couldn't see who it was, although I could tell it wasn't Joe. He started playing bass, and just as it clicked, I saw Joe Bonamassa enter the stage with a pretty telecaster in hand. And they were off.

They opened with Taking The Hit, and followed that with Walk In My Shadow. The third song they did was Blues Deluxe, one of my favorites. As impressive as Joe's guitar ability is, he is one hell of a singer, too. Lots of energy. The other thing is, even myself being a guitar player, I found it almost just as interesting watching Joe's face as his fingers everytime he played a solo. You can tell he feels the notes, as if you needed any reassurance just after hearing them! Joe is an incredible blues rock guitarist and singer.

Following Blues Deluxe was Mountain Time, and then a song I didn't recognize (Bridge To Better Days), although I really liked the sound of it. It had a pretty distinctive and catchy riff. After that, the band launched into the monstrous A New Day Yesterday. This is just an absolutely incredible blues rock song, the way Joe performs it. Tons of energy. I think my favorite part, and probably one of my favorite parts of the whole show, was at the end of the song, when Joe fired up a lick that sounded very much like the classic Spoonful, and maybe it's just because I've been listening to tons of Ten Years After in the past week or so, but it sounded very Ten Years After-ish to me, and that was great. The drummer also took a brief but entertaining solo during that song.

Then the band left the stage, and Joe grabbed an acoustic guitar - something he hadn't done in either of the two live DVD's that are currently available. He played a really cool acoustic version of Miss You, Hate You, and then Woke Up Dreaming, which he kept trying to play faster and faster. At one point he just stopped, laughed, and said something, though I couldn't hear since he was away from the microphone, but the guys behind me thought that he had said "you guys are fucking crazy" in response to the crowd encouraging him to play faster and faster and faster. It was really fun, and then at the end of the song, Joe said that "it's actually harder than it looks."

The band returned as Joe switched to his slide guitar, and he did a combo that reminded me a lot of the recent Rockpalast DVD - The River followed by Burnin' Hell. Two very awesome songs. I like how The River starts out quiet then it kicks into full gear. Joe is awesome on slide guitar, too. He had some fun with us on Burnin' Hell, trying to get us to join in the chorus. At one point he said "this is Pittsburgh fucking Pennsylvania - lemme hear you!" He got us to repeat some hollers after him, and he belted out one really long one, and then listened as the audience repeated. He replied, "y'all gotta do that in one breath!"

The song ended, Joe said goodnight, and the band left the stage. After a short break and with some encouragement from the audience, the band returned for an encore. Joe mentioned his upcoming cd, which is to be released June 6, I believe, then introduced the next song (Asking Around For You) as one from that album. It ended too soon, and then the show was over. It didn't even feel like they played for near two hours, but they did.

On a side note, Joe Bonamassa passed right by me twice at the Rex Theatre. Once during the opening act, he went up the aisle, right past me as I was seated - I recognized him immediately, though. Then again, after the show, I was coming back from the merchandise table, and he was heading over to sign autographs. I could've gotten an autograph, but I'm not big on them, they seem so arbitrary and impersonal - I have the memory of the music to cherish! Joe looked really cool playing on stage with those sunglasses on. He's got such a cool style. And the guitars he uses not only sound good, but they look good, too. I'm definitely interested in seeing Joe Bonamassa play again the next chance I get - and hopefully I'll be able to introduce some more people to his music!

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