Joe Bonamassa Live at Carnegie Hall:An Acoustic Evening - DVD Review
The Joe Bonamassa production line has gone into gear again, this time with a live CD/DVD recorded at New York’s infamous Carnegie Hall and once more it is a quality release. But instead of electric blues and long solos this is all acoustic.
His regular band is complemented with some hand picked internationally renowned musicians and singers. Cellist and erhuist Tina Guo whose repertoire ranges from classical to metal is an interesting choice, as is Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy who has previous worked with Page/Plant and Sting. Finally there is the master of everything, Eric Bazilian who plays mandolin, mandola, banjo, lap guitar, hurdy-gurdy and saxophone. Add to that three Australiansingers Mahalia Barnes, Gary Pinto and Juanita Tippins and you have quite an eclectic mix, and the best bit it is it all works into a beautiful reincarnation and transformation of his songs.
Although we now know some of these songs from his album Blues Of Desperation, at the time this was recorded they were not released which adds to the interest, such as the opener This Train which is performed relatively straight forward. Things start to get interesting when the band translates Drive giving it a bluegrass feel whereas Driving Towards The Daylight drips in Americana.
It’s not all about JB on this release, soloing from him of any kind is almost non-existent, preferring to “cowboy strum” his way through the majority of the set. He prefers to let his band shine, and shine they do. Although often prominent, Guo’s cello is heavily featured in Black Lung Heartache where she solos majestically; she was so into it I was almost expecting her to go totally metal (and mental) and start thrashing away.
The interplay between Guo and Bonamassa is wonderful to watch in Woke Up Dreaming, the filming of which really captures the tension as well as picking up the finer details such as the fraying of her bow; it is exhilarating to watch.
Leon Russell’s Hummingbird is a beautiful finale to the set and the encore of Bette Midler’s The Rose is a big surprise too – I don’t like to look at the song list before I play a DVD, I relish in the moment just as I would at a concert.
As with all of JB’s DVD’s the filming is of a very high standard and the sound quality is exceptional too, the sound is produced by Kevin Shirley so it should be perfect. JB has engaged just the right combination of people to make this such a huge success and it is so enjoyable to watch, the time flew by as I was so engrossed in it.
The bonus disc is full of all the usual features you come to expect in a JB release. The behind the scenes section includes an interview with the man which is both enlightening as it is amusing – his self deprecating sense of humour is often overlooked – and it also features interviews with quite a few members of the band; what is palpable is how special playing the Carnegie Hall is for everyone involved and it shows in this unique performance.
I really hope we get to see this live in the UK, it would undoubtedly be the event of the year... fingers crossed.