Joe Bonamassa – Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver – November 29th, 2018

Joe Bonamassa

Queen Elizabeth Theatre


Blues guitar virtuoso, Joe Bonamassa, played the first of a three night residency at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver on Thursday night..

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, in Vancouver played host to the final leg of Joe Bonamassa’s extensive North American tour for 2018. Three nights in one city, after 100+ shows this year was something that Joe and the gang were looking forward to, after what must have been a punishing schedule. 

While those onstage were looking forward to a more relaxing couple of days, those in the audience where certainly getting ready for a standout performance not just form the man himself, but also the talented group of musicians on stage with him.

To say Joe Bonamassa has a strong pedigree as a blues guitarist is an understatement.  The New Hartford, New York native, who has been playing since kindergarten had already opened for multiple BB King shows before the age of 12 and had his own band with the kids of other blues legends before he was 18. Now a little over twenty years later he is one of the most well-known and well-respected musicians in his field.

Joe and band did not disappoint on Thursday night.  The set comprised a solid collection of tracks from his previous albums, a scattering of blues classics, and opened with four tracks from his latest outing, Redemption.

Out of the gate we got two rockers, with King Bee Shakedown and Evil Mama. Not only did these set the stage for the night to come in terms of guitar magic, but also really highlighted the quality of the rest of the band. Whilst Joe himself is obviously the star of the show, he gave ample exposure to all members of the band.

Swapping out a Fender for his classic Les Paul, the pace slowed for the wonderful “Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should”. It gave the audience a chance to really appreciate Joe vocals, as well as some sublime keys from Reese Wynans.

Wynans also featured with a haunting solo on I Get Evil, which also featured a fantastic trumpet solo from Lee Thornburg, whose pedigree is as extensive as Bonamasssas.

John Mayall’s Little Girl was one a of number of standout covers alongside BB King’s Nobody Loves Me But My Mother. My two favourite covers of the night included Led Zeppelin’s Boogie with Stu and Albert King’s Breaking Up Somebody’s Home.

Breaking up Somebody’s Home was the first of these and was amazing.  Joe has switched to his Flying V for this and started with just the accompaniment of Anton Fig on percussion. The lack other instruments really helped showcase Bonamassa’s technical skill. The song built into a solid rocker, with a phenomenal solo from Paulie Cerra, and buy the end the crowd were ecstatic.

After the pure energy of this, Joe took some time to thank the audience for coming out on a Thursday and joked about enjoying his stay at the local Days Inn. He also took the opportunity to introduce the band. In addition to those previously named, this included singers Mahalia Barnes and Jade Macrae, who were both stunning throughout the night. Joe took time out to let people know that the addition of the two singers had even helped with his own singing on the tour, joking that they kept him in tune. A special mention should go to bassist Michael Rhodes, who was incredible all night, and here some credit needs to go to the sound technicians who did a great job balancing on the night.

After the intros we had Slow Train and Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, which came in like lamb, and left like a lion. Wynans and Bonamassa combined for a simple, quiet which morphed into a blazing solo to close out the number. This was the perfect segue into Boogie with Stu, which featured Wynans superb keyboards, with an almost honky-tonk feel, another blistering guitar solo from Bonamassa, and some wonderful sax from Paulie Cerra. A short outro of Zeppelin’s How Many More Times closed out the main part of the show, with the audience making it known that they wanted more.

Duly obliging the band came back with Well Well and Hummingbird to send everyone home happy.

Check out photos from the show by Stewart Johnstone