Joe Bonamassa – Apollo Manchester 15th October 2010
Widely to be considered to be the best blues guitarist around today and on the heels of his 2009 groundbreaking Albert Hall performance, Joe Bonamassa's profile has grown higher and higher. As part of supergroup Black Country Communion and the recent release of their debut album, sees Bonamassa has never been so widely accessible or popular.
They'd removed the seats downstairs at the Apollo for this one, obviously to cram as many punters in as possible. It was strange seeing this old traditional theatre laid bare this way but before long, the floor was filled with expectant and excited people. Bonamassa came on stage dressed in his sharp grey suit and Les Paul in hand. 'Cradle Rock' was the opener; with its slide guitar break and tight backing, it got the evening off to a great start.
The bluesy 'So Many Roads' followed, which had an impossibly fast guitar solo and resulted in the crowd becoming more animated. The atmosphere was turned up a notch with the next song ''When The Fire Hits The Sea'. Having made his first of many guitar changes of the evening (to a Les Paul Goldtop for those who are interested), the song bounced along with a heavy keyboard sound filling every nook and cranny of the auditorium.
I've listened to Bonamassa for quite a few years now and have seen his song writing and music mature exponentially. Originally concentrating on the more traditional, slower blues he has added a rock edge to his repertoire. The set was mixed and included songs such as 'Ballad Of John Henry' and the more recent 'Sloe Gin'. There was slow blues, up tempo blues-rock and an extended acoustic guitar solo. Another long solo, this time on an electric guitar, showed the audience that he is a true craftsman.
During the evening he spoke of the time of his Manchester debut in front of only 35 people; a contrast to the 3500 people at the Apollo this evening. Many great songs and guitar changes later, the inevitable encore came in the form of 'Just Got Paid'. It was then time to brave the Manchester rain.
From his more humble beginnings, Joe Bonamassa has become a showman and true entertainer. His music has matured as he has and I can't wait to hear what more is to come.