3rd July 2016

Joe Bonamassa at Preston Guild Hall 2.7.16

Chorley FM HQ

It was with some disappointment that the news started to filter through that this years series of concerts at Hoghton Tower had become victims of the British Summer weather and were to be canceled on health and safety grounds due to the ground being waterlogged.

The Sun reappeared with news that global blues superstar Joe Bonamassa who was due to play on the Saturday night had managed to have his concert relocated to the more weatherproof venue of Preston Guild Hall. This made very many blues fans incredibly happy as this was potentially the only opportunity to see Joe in concert here in the North West this year. It must also have been a godsend for St Catherine’s Hospice as this series of gigs each year is a major fundraiser for our local hospice who do such sterling work here in Lancashire.

Saturday arrived and the sun was shining as we made our way to the famous old lady which is Preston Guild Hall. Excited that once again her stage was to be graced by an iconic musician of world standing. Queues were forming two hours before the doors were due to open and the atmosphere was electric with anticipation.It was also refreshing to see the range of ages within the audience itself cementing the fact that great blues music is not just the preserve of one age group.

The guild hall itself is a fantastic venue which as a local lad I have been to on many occasions in the past and here’s hoping that having managed to put on this gig at such short notice that they can start to attract those big names again. Of course in the past the venue has seen such greats as Mott The Hoople supported by Queen! Gary Moore, Status Quo ,  David Bowie , Thin Lizzy and the mighty Led Zeppelin since its opening in 1973.

Tonight the hall was buzzing with excitement as the crew carried out their final checks and we listened to the selection of music playing over the PA system.Packed to capacity the atmosphere was growing by the minute and cheers rang out when the lights went down. The first person on stage was St Catherine’s CEO who welcomed everyone and thanked the artists and Guild hall for acommodating the switch  of venue at such short notice. The lights went back up and the countdown was on.

First on stage was the support for the evening Joanne Shaw Taylor and her band. She swaggered through her set with the confidence of an artist who is still in the ascendancy. Discovered by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame she is the master of her guitar and the tight sound of her band is a joy to hear. You only need to check out her frantic touring schedule to see that this is a lady in big demand who can hold you spellbound whilst she wrings every last emotion from her axe. Her seven song set was well received by the capacity crowd, her performance ensuring that I for one will check her band out in the future when she comes to the north west headlining.

The main event was on it’s way! Road crew hurriedly made some last minute adjustments to the set up. The lights dimmed and the crowd let out an almighty roar as the man himself Mr Joe Bonamassa took to the stage. This was to be no ordinary concert. This one of a set of five gigs entitled “A Salute To The British Blues Explosion” “Joe Bonamassa Pays Homage To The Music Of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page” The drumbeat was unmistakable opening with Becks Bolero !! Anyone coming to this gig with the expectation of a covers gig was in for a great big surprise for ably assisted by his Band Joe proceeded to put his own individual stamp on every number he played. Mainline Florida swiftly followed by Boogie With Stu and Beck’s Let Me Love You Baby had the crowd in the palm of his hand not wanting the numbers to end but eagerly anticipating the next song to hear Joe’s arrangement. Boy that guy can play !!!! A trio of Beck numbers with Plynth and Spanish Boots taking us to an absolutely amazing rendition of John Mayall’s Double Crossing Time. The capacity crowd and the electrifying music coming from the stage conspired to send the temperature soaring and a marvelous cover of Clapton’s Motherless Children left the audience begging for more! Bonamassa owned the stage! He swaggered through his set like a man on a mission to play new improved “Bonamassaed”(is that even a word) versions of some of the best loved classic British blues ever recorded. Cream’s SWLABR followed and highlight of highlights for me I Can’t Quit You Babe which had the hair on the back of my neck standing up ! John Mayall’s Little Girl Clapton’s Pretending and the finale comprising White Summer/Black Mountain Side and How Many more times had this guy and the rest of the venue begging for more. Joe thanked each and every one of us for coming and then proceeded to blow us away with his version of Tim Currys Sloe Gin.

Joe is a guitarist at the very top of his game. From the 12 year old boy who opened for BB King in 1989 his rise has been meteoric and we now see what I honestly believe is probably the best blues guitarist on the road today. He plays with a passion unseen in so many musicians today and that passion melds with a steely determination to give of his all on stage. I must also congratulate Joe on his selection of musicians for his touring band. I have to say that the sound was awesome.

Joe continues his tour and the details are below. If you want to see one of the worlds top guitarists backed by an amazing band playing British Blues then don’t miss this opportunity it’s the sort of gig you may never see the likes of again.

I would also highly recommend Joe Bonamassa’s latest album available now on the Mascot Label called “Blues of Desperation” and of course his extensive back catalogue.

Joe’s remaining dates on this tour are below. DON’T MISS OUT !!

Also for the very best in Rock Music tune in to The Radioactive Rock Show Monday 10pm – Midnight

Saturday 10pm-Midnight and the Sunday Supplement 12Noon -2PM 102.8 FM or listen online www.chorley.fm

Terry B

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