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Joe Bonamassa - Cavern Club, Liverpool http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/70/6e/28/Bonamassa-Cavern-66-1467277195.jpg Hot

Added by James Gaden     June 30, 2016    
 
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Joe Bonamassa, Cavern Club, Liverpool: 27 June 2016
Photos: Christie Goodwin

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As Joe Bonamassa told us, slightly wearingly, you had to go to a bar, then over to Costa Coffee, then to a street corner where you flashed four secret signs, then you were in. Okay, not quite, but this was a limited, wrist-banded and ID specific deal so that people couldn't sell them on (which in this day and age does make perfect sense). You had to enter the subterranean Cavern Bar and brave the acoustic act belting out 'Mr Blue Sky' to get in. It was free though and one of several special gigs that Bonamassa and his band are trying to fit in – playing iconic music at iconic venues.

Tonight in a sweaty club (oh Geno) he couldn't lose, it was designed for diehard fans who relished this treat of a show; a funny, relaxed Bonamassa favouring with some Jeff Beck, some Jimmy Page and lots of panache. Starting from a position of red-faced shinyness, Bonamassa became a mass of sweat as he peeled off fiery licks and cosseted some gentle airs from his guitars, bringing them to us with beautiful appeal with his face showing every effort, every moment of joy. Strangely, his uber cool bassist Michael Rhodes, drummer Anton Fig and seasoned Allman alumnus Reese Wynans barely seem to perspire at all.

Just a word about that band. Bonamassa loves 'em and so he should, they are phenomenal. Fig has a deep thump redolent of Bonham (in fact his late solo has Bonzos Montreux written all over it), Rhodes has a fabulous time battening it all down, sometime Aerosmith sideman Russ Irwin pitches in with rhythm guitar and some lovely harmonies and Wynans, well, he's having the time of a life, marshalling his old cabinet, acting as faux bandleader and tickling those seventies, fat keys to really wash the sound all over you. They produce and they open up... they are clearly amazing musicians.

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And Bonamassa was easy on the ear at the same time as producing what we all knew are stupendous, sexy solos, bending strings till they almost broke, coaxing notes only dogs could hear and banging out what might even be called "a little shredding". Beck's 'Bolero' and 'Rice Pudding' were faithfully delivered but with impunity, Cream's 'Swlabr' was freaky fun, 'I Can't Quit You' messed about with, opened up and put back together just slightly used. And 'Pretending' a plaintive paean with the balls to kick all night. Finishing with a Beatles tribute, this was a man at the height of his powers who is not prepared to sit still, witness his Funky work with Rock Candy Funk Party and itchy moving around the Blues on his solo albums. Some say there's not enough dirt under the fingernails; my gig companion, Discoursing Debbie, listening to The Faces on the way back, said "this is messy, it's all over you", and yes they do have what Rival Sons Scott Holiday describes as "loosetight". The only time Bonamassa seemed a little aerated tonight was when mentioning those who say he is "in it for the cash", he made sure that he told us of the thirty people who work with them and have families too, quite rightly, leaving it by mentioning that the free gig should change views somewhat.

So was this too clean? Could you see your face in it? Well, if it has economy of movement, that is what the Modern Blues gunslingers do; Joanne Shaw Taylor, Dan Patlansky, Philip Sayce – only Virgil and his Accelerators seem messy and ragged in a sexy way. Bonamassa should not be derided for this, that isn't his scene and tonight he sweated, he worked, he simply flew.

It was special alright. The Cavern (although not the original) is one of the most iconic venues in the world, Joe Bonamassa isn't that iconic yet, but soon, surely soon...

Steve Swift

JOE BONAMASSA IN CONCERT: A SALUTE TO THE BRITISH BLUES EXPLOSION
Joe Bonamassa pays homage to the music of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page

SPECIAL GUEST "JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR" OPENS FOR JOE AT HOGHTON TOWER,
LONDON GREENWICH MUSIC TIME FESTIVAL AND NEWARK CASTLE

HOGHTON TOWER, SATURDAY 2 JULY

GLASGOW CLYDE AUDITORIUM (SOLD OUT), SUNDAY 3 JULY

BRISTOL COLSTON HALL (SOLD OUT), TUESDAY 5 JULY

LONDON GREENWICH MUSIC TIME FESTIVAL, THURSDAY 7 JULY

NEWARK CASTLE RIVERSIDE PARK, FRIDAY 8 JULY

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