Blues rocker Joe Bonamassa has finally satisfied the desires of his long time fan base in releasing the double live cd Live From Nowhere In Particular.
Bonamassa was born in 1977. It was the era that classic rock artists like Led Zeppelin, Yes, ZZ Top, Robin Trower and many others dominated FM radio stations. This was before VH-1 and MTV came along. Through touring the stadium and arena circuit, these bands built a reputation as performers who took no prisoners with their volcanic riffs and building a wall of sound that was thrilling on every audio and visual level.
Joe seems to understand this. Working endlessly all over America and Europe, he has acquired monster sized chops sputtering out blues notes that appeal to the youngsters and middle-aged adults who came of age during the golden age of rock.
When listening to this live set, one can draw a conclusion that Bonamassa belongs to that same pantheon of guitarists who enriched us as youngsters in the past. There is plenty of light and shade on this cd to hold listener interest. The keyboards of Rick Melick add texture behind Bonamassa's soaring lead lines in the ballad "Asking Around For You." The Jethro Tull rocker "A New Day Yesterday" sees Joe firing off power riffs fusing blues notes. Then the song abruptly detours into the coda of the "Starship Trooper."
Equally impressive is Bonamassa's touch on acoustic guitar. He plucks clean crisp notes on a metronomic "Ball Peen Hammer." He keeps the acoustic on for "If Heartaches Were Nickels" which utilizes an entirely different approach from its electrified shredfest rave-up. It's only in "Woke Up Dreaming" that Joe goes for the jugular in playing so many notes a second. His assault on the acoustic guitar is mesmerizing as he races like some uncontrollable demon.
Bonamassa's Les Paul guitar work recalls many British greats. The Jeff Beck pin is worn on the instrumental "Django" with Joe reaching for the cosmos with spacy notes. It doesn't last for long as the band suddenly launches into ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid" with Joe's British sound still intact. Which is just as well anyway. The band's tempos go through twists and turns with Bonamassa teasing notes through volume swells and pedal laden effects. You know it's building to something. And sure enough Bonamassa rips through the mid-section of the Zeppelin classic "Dazed and Confused" that would impress old ZOSO himself. But it quickly comes back to Just Got Paid. The Eastern incense of "India" is a heady aroma full of intoxicating fumes that lift when Joe plays the familiar lines of "MountainTime" which is a longtime staple in his setlist.
Joe isn't stuck with waxing nostalgia. He's injecting venom so the blues isn't on life support only. There's the Buford Pusser attitude on the celebratory "Bridge To Better Days." The hard rock shuffle of the blueser "Walk In My Shadows" can be a party favorite with its catchy guitar lines. Joe doesn't forget about his idols on this side of the pond. "Another Kinda Love" can be an ode to Mountain with its Leslie West fat chords.
Bonamassa tips his hat to many vintage rockers with this release. The blues is there. It just doesn't exist in the 12 bar format only. Joe's vision of it goes a lot farther. We would be in trouble if it didnt.