Joe Bonamassa – Phoenix Concert Review

OK, I admit it. I am certified Bona-holic.

Consider this my public admission that I have no control over my Bona-diction. That’s step one in the twelve-step program and I feel so much better now that the truth is out.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Joe Bonamassa is the King of modern day blues.

Nobody can touch this guy live. Don’t misunderstand me – there are dozens of quality players in the “top 5 percent of modern day blues guitarists,” but Joe is in 1st position and he is starting to pull away.

Secretariat won the 1973 Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths over the best of the rest. I believe we are witnessing the same type of excellence…and separation.

Joe Bonamassa in Phoenix, 3-19-10, Photo by GuitarDaddy

I had the pleasure of being invited to meet Joe in person last Friday night before the show.

There were 6 of us in the private audience (just a few less than the 1,250 who attended the concert later that evening) including 3 guests of mine (2 who were seeing Joe live for the first time).

The meeting was arranged in the lobby of the Orpheum Theater. We spoke about the “BUZZ”, my review of Black Rock, how the Royal Albert Hall show came to be and how Joe pulled off the score-of-a-lifetime by having Eric Clapton join him on stage that night in London.

Our talk continued as Joe shared that $250,000 was on the line that night (to make the DVD) and the pressure he felt to not miss a note, his view on amps, watts and how he produces the ultimate tone. He surprised us by leaking some news about another new signature guitar that is coming very soon… (I will let Joe make that announcement himself). We covered a lot of ground in 25 minutes.

All in all, he was gracious and relaxed. I was in awe and humbled to have a private audience with the 2010 Blues God. I thanked Joe for taking time to meet and talk with us and for letting us get a little closer to the man with the golden GoldTop.

The concert started at EXACTLY 8:00pm as Joe walked out with the double neck strapped over his tailored suit (and sneakers). I took the picture you see from my front row seat in the Orpheum where the sound was dialed in at a perfect 10.

I was mesmerized for the entire 135 minute performance that included 9 guitar changes and enough electric guitar mastery to fill my hungry soul and yet still leave me craving for more — all because the taste was so good.

Joe mixed up the set by playing many of his classic staples like “If Heartaches Were Nickles,” “Blues Deluxe” and “Slow Gin” while also introducing the audience to a taste of the new Black Rock CD with “Blue and Evil” and “Bird on a Wire.” The guy sitting next to me screamed “Mountain Time!” after every song until Joe finally looked at him and said, “Be patient!” Those close enough to catch it had a good laugh. Mountain Time came along 30 minutes later.

Joe’s band was spot-on the entire night. Bogie Bowles is one of the most under-rated drummers on tour. He understands the dynamics of every song and ripped it all night long. Carmine Rojas sported an eye-patch from his recent eye-surgery and played his amazing bass staying seated in front of Bogie. Great to see the recovery is going well and he has not had to miss the tour. Rick Melick adds the keyboard flair that fills, rounds and compliments each track. While the rumors are all true about Joe and the “new band,” I certainly hope he does not abandon these guys. They are a tight group and as a quad, they are capable of creating consistent blues magic.

The lone acoustic song of the evening, “Woke up Dreaming,” gave the band members a rest while Joe showed that his skills go far beyond playing electric riffs. Playing completely alone, Joe showcased his ability to combine a myriad of complicated scale patterns and arpeggios at warp speed all while simulating the percussive beat on the bass strings. It is something every guitar player needs to see — even if only once. I have seen it a dozen times and am still blown away that the human fingers can move that fast.

When the “Flying V” came out I knew I was in for a full dose of Bona-Rock as Joe blasted out his rendition of the solo from Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed & Confused,” perfectly integrated into his own wicked version of “Just Got Paid”. He raised the “V” high in the air at the end – reminiscent of the conclusion at Royal Albert Hall.

While I realized that the night was over, I knew the memories would be eternal.

If Joe Bonamassa is within 3-States of where you live, DON’T MISS THE SHOW.

Check out his tour schedule by CLICKING HERE.

Joe Bonamassa With Some Of His Guitars


  1. Gregg says

    It was nice to meeting you at the meet and greet with Joe. You were right it was a treat to get up close and personal. Getting the autographs was pretty cool too.

    I saw you up front. My son and I had seats in the 20th row. The show was fabulous. Joe rocks and never disappoints.

  2. Steve Sewell says

    Great info. I’m seeing Joe in Nashville TN in November for the first time. I’m taking my brother so it’s a great boys night out. Is there a site where I can find concert pictures of Joe? I’d like to add him to my wall of blues in my man cave.


  3. Mike says

    I have seen Joe he’s a lot like going to see Kenny Sheppard but just not quite there as far as our group was concerned. He seemed nice but it would be nice to see his material mature beyond a few tricks and showing a lot of equipment. I would say he’d make good music as a background to an event but the stage presence is a little forced or something. Good backup guys though I remember being impressed with the follow through the bass player had. I will say they are tight but this is a fringe act really.

  4. ECO says


    Well said. His act has a long way to go. The guy seems more concerned with acting the part. Great talent, but there’s something a little amateur, contrived and “C-” about his whole act.

  5. rick says

    C-?? Kenny Wayne Shepard is damn good but Joe is not a C- to him. Which blues player has made a better name that has been new on the scene in the last 10 years. This guy packs the crowds in world wide. His skill as a guitarist is second to none. The reason he isn’t an opening act is because anyone wanting to pay enough to get him to precede their act risks the chance of being blown away before getting onstage and hitting their first note.


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